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Onion prices soar overnight in local markets

Rokon Uddin
09 Dec 2023 21:35:17 | Update: 09 Dec 2023 21:37:02
Onion prices soar overnight in local markets

The price of all types of onions in Bangladesh’s wholesale and retail markets have skyrocketed overnight, following India’s decision to ban exports of this kitchen essential until March 31 next year.

Local onions are being sold for Tk 180 – Tk 200 per kg in the capital's retail markets, up from Tk 120 – Tk 140 per kg a day ago. Besides, imported onions are being sold at Tk 160 – Tk 190 per kg, which was Tk 120 – Tk 130 a day ago.

Traders started increasing the price of this product since the news of the ban arrived on Friday, and the market has become more volatile since Saturday morning after the increase in price by Tk 10 to Tk 20 per kg.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Ghulam Rahman said, “New onions are arriving in the country's market, so the price started to fall from the beginning of December. Moreover, the amount of onion produced and imported in the country should not cause a shortage of onions immediately.

“So there is no logical reason for the price to almost double overnight on news of India's exports ban. Traders have suddenly raised prices to make extra profit by syndicating. Many people also think that they have got such an opportunity because of the government's flexible attitude towards such businessmen.”

He added, “It is clear that the traders have manipulated the prices because onions have not stopped coming from India as yet. India has stopped the export of onions conditionally.

“This means that the government of any country can buy it and they will export the onions that are in the pipeline or for which the LC has already been opened. The government should be stricter to prevent manipulation by traders. Onion storage capacity should be increased too.”

On Saturday, in most of the markets, local onions are being sold for Tk 180 – Tk 200 per kg, while the price of imported onion at Tk 160 – Tk 190 per kg depending on the quality. The price of large onions imported from China was Tk 120 – Tk 130 per kg.

New onions with leaves have arrived in the market of the country and its price also increased by Tk 10 – Tk 20 to Tk 80 – Tk 90 per kg.

Alamgir Hossain, a buyer from Malibagh, said, “I bought Indian onions on Friday morning for Tk 130, but I bought the same type of onion for Tk 180 per kg on Saturday. I thought that new onions are arriving and the price will decrease.

“For this, I did not buy onions in advance. I am shocked by the situation now. Traders have increased prices by Tk 50 per kg overnight. I do not understand how this is possible.”

Onions were being sold at Tk 180 – Tk 190 per kg at retail and imported onion was being sold for Tk 160 – Tk 170 per kg at the city’s Mohammadpur Krishi Market.

At Shyambazar, a wholesale market of capital, onions were being sold at Tk 175 – Tk 195 per kg, while the imported onion was sold at Tk 155 – Tk 180 per kg. Many retailers have complained that many wholesalers have stopped supplying onions.

It should be noted that a similar situation occurred in 2019. When India suddenly announced a ban on onion exports at the beginning of September that year, the prices in the country's market started to rise rapidly.

At the beginning of September 2019, onions were sold at Tk 50 per kg, which increased to Tk 300 at the end of November.

According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), onions were being sold for Tk 115 – Tk 130 per kg at the beginning of November, which decreased slightly to Tk 105 – Tk 120 at the end of November.

Besides, imported onions were sold for Tk 110 – Tk 120 per kg at the beginning of November, but it came down to Tk 90 – Tk 110 at the end of November.

Along with imports, imported new seasonal onions started arriving in the market, so the price also started to decrease. But due to the ban imposed by India, traders have suddenly increased the prices.

According to the TCB, local onions were being sold for Tk 120 – Tk 135 per kg on Thursday, which increased to Tk 120 – Tk 140 on Friday.

On Saturday, local onions were being sold for Tk 180 – Tk 190 per kg. In the case of imported onions, the prices were Tk 90 – Tk 120 on Thursday, which rose to Tk 100 – Tk 120 on Friday. On Saturday, the price increased to Tk 160 – Tk 170 per kg.

According to the ministry of commerce, annual demand of onions in the country is around 30 lakh tonnes.

As per the Department of Agricultural Extension, last season (FY23) 34.86 lakh tonnes of onions were produced in the country and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) are saying that more than 11.65 lakh tonnes of onions have been imported in the country during the same period.

Last season, there was enough onion production in the country, but the government allowed onion imports as the price increased in the May-June period.

According to the Directorate of Agriculture and Marketing (DAM), more than 6.5 lakh tonnes of onions have been imported into the country from last July to December 5.