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Onion price brings tears

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Publication date:  6 December 2017

Onion price brings tears

Shamsuddin Illius in Ctg and MA Mannan Mia in Jessore

Media: The Independent

Original URL: Onion price brings tears

E-paper URL: Onion price brings tears

The price of local onion has risen to Tk. 90 per kg and that of the imported Indian onion to Tk. 70 in wholesale markets. The local variety is selling at Tk. 90-100 and the imported one at Tk. 80-90 per kg in retail markets. Businessmen blamed low production of onion in India due to floods and tidal surge. They also said late harvesting of local onion is partially responsible for the upsurge in onion prices. Onion prices were unwavering for the last few months. But from the last week of November, the prices increased by Tk. 12-17 per kg, after the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) of the Indian government fixed the per metric ton price of onion at USD 850 on November 23. It was USD 350-400 several months ago. This means traders in Bangladesh and other countries will not be able to import onion from India at a lower price. The minimum export price on onion will be effective till December 31, said the DGFT in its notification. Owing to the decision of the DGFT, prices of both domestic and imported onion have increased by Tk. 12-15 in both the wholesale and retail markets.

Md Mozammel, a wholesaler in the capital’s Karwan Bazar, told The Independent: “We are selling local onion at Tk. 90 per kg and the Indian onion at Tk. 70.”

“We bought one kg of local onion at Tk. 100 at Raza Bazar in the capital on Monday night. I would not have believed it, had I not bought it myself,” said Mr Habib, a resident of Raza Bazar.

Mohammad Muzzaffor, Bazlur Rahman, Shafique and Mehedi, importers of onion from India through the Benapole land port, told The Independent that the price of onion has increased with hiking the price. The Indian government has fixed the per metric tonne of onion price at USD 850, which was USD 350-400 only five months ago. Besides, the domestic onion usually arrives in the market at the end of November every year. This year excessive rain has delayed the arrival of new onion in the market.

Businessmen said that within 10 days the price of onion will be in a stable position, as they have opened a ‘Letter of Credit’ (LC) for onion from alternative markets—China and Turkey—and the local onion will arrive by this time.

Md Akhter Hossain, general manager (Commercial Division) of S Alam group, one of the leading commodity goods wholesalers in Chittagong, said: “We have opened the LC for 100,000 tonnes of onion from Turkey to tackle the unstable market. The first consignment of 10,000 tonnes will reach the port within nine days.”

“Onion was sold at the same price at the Chittagong Khatungonj wholesale market,” said Hazi Mohammad Idris, secretary of the Khatungonj Hamidullah Market Businessmen’s Welfare Samiti.

“As there is low supply of onion in the market, the price has increased. The price will be stable within 10 days as some onion is on the way to Bangladesh from China. After arrival of the onion from China and Turkey, the price will fall. At the same time, the domestic crop will be harvested,” added Idris.

The LC price of per tonne of onion was USD 271 in September, while it rose to USD 341 in October this year, according to the foreign exchange policy department of Bangladesh Bank (BB). Last year, the price of per tonne onion was USD 112.

The commerce ministry has a total of 14 monitoring teams that are continuously conducting monitoring across the city so that nobody can take undue advantage of the price hike of the particular commodity. A total of 3,060 letters of credit (LCs) were opened between January and October this year for importing around eight lakh tonnes of onion, but the LC settlement during this period was 8.06 lakh tonnes, BB sources said.

The price of onion has soared to Tk. 85-90 per kg in the city markets and the imported onion is being sold at Tk. 70-75. A month ago, the price of onion was Tk. 45-50 per kg. Bangladesh has an annual demand of 23 to 24 lakh tonnes of onion, according to the government. Onion prices had jumped in Bangladesh after India raised minimum export prices to USD 700 (Tk. 54,460) per tonne from USD 425 (Tk. 33,065) in August 2015. Commerce ministry officials said they are trying to bring down the price of onion by importing from different sources. According to the latest market price of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), onion was selling at Tk. 76 to 95 per kg at different markets of the capital yesterday.

The TCB said the local variety of onion was selling at Tk. 95 per kg and the imported variety at Tk. 80.

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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