Onion still skyrocketing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:09 AM, September 20, 2019

Onion still skyrocketing

Onion prices kept surging yesterday despite measures and promises from the government to cool down the market of the essential cooking ingredient.

Yesterday, the price of the pungent bulb rose at wholesale markets which are likely to push up the retail rates further.

Onion prices jumped in Indian wholesale markets in the last two days, resulting in a hike in its cost of import to Bangladesh, said Dipankar Ghosh, port organising secretary of the Bhomra Clearing and Forwarding Agents.

Indian onions were traded at Tk 65-67 a kilo yesterday, up from Tk 57-58 the previous day at Bhomra, one of the main land ports to bring in onion from India, he said.

Ghosh said prices of onion were quoted at 51-52 Indian rupees a kilo at Maharashtra’s Nashik district from 40-41 rupees on Tuesday.

The inter-bank exchange rate was about Tk 1.18 per Indian rupee yesterday, according to the central bank.

Rainfall has affected the onion crop in the neighbouring country, leading to the skyrocketing of the prices there too, he said.

To curb the price hike, India fixed $850 (Tk 71,821) per tonne as minimum export price on September 13.

The price restriction heated up the onion market in Bangladesh as the country meets a portion of its annual demand through imports because of inadequate domestic production.

Traders earlier said onion production also suffered locally because of rains during harvesting season.

Since September 13, prices of onions increased 28 percent to Tk 58-Tk 70 yesterday from Tk 45-Tk 55, according to the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

The surging prices raised concerns among consumers with the TCB beginning open market sales of the tuber at Tk 45 per kilo through five mobile vans in Dhaka.

The scale of the operation is too small to make an impact in the market, said a wholesaler at Shyambazar, a major wholesale market for onion in the city.

The spiral in price continues despite a commerce ministry official—after a meeting with traders on Tuesday—said the government’s measures and adequate supply in the market would bring down the prices within 24 hours.

Mohammad Abdul Mazed, general secretary of Shyambazar Onion Wholesalers Association, said they expected that the prices would drop.

“But what can you do if prices shot up at the source of supply? If prices of onions rise in India, the prices go up here too,” he said.

At Shyambazar, locally grown onion was sold at Tk 62-Tk 65 a kilo yesterday from Tk 55-58 on Wednesday.

Onion imported from India was traded at Tk 55-Tk 60 from Tk 52-53 one day ago, said Narayan Saha, a wholesaler in the market.

“The market reports we are getting from the border are not encouraging. The prices are going up there,” he said.

Mazed said importers have opened letters of credit to import the tuber from Myanmar and Egypt.

The shipment from Myanmar is expected to arrive within a week. But it may take two-three weeks for Egyptian onions to arrive, he said.

Bangladesh imported 10.91 lakh tonnes of onion in fiscal 2018-19, up from 9.53 lakh tonnes a year ago.

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics is yet to publish its estimate on onion production for 2018-19. The production stood at 17.38 lakh tonnes in 2017-18.

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