The price of onion, a common item in Bangladeshi kitchen, witnessed a 557.80 percent year-on-year rise, says state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
According to the TCB data, the price of local onion increased by 542.86 percent while that of imported one by 572.73 in November this year compared to the corresponding period of the last year.
As per the market analysis, the price hike, which stemmed from the ban India slapped on the export of the bulb on September 29, is much higher than the TCB estimation.
The price kept surging despite various steps taken by the government, including conducting mobile court drives against traders who were selling onion at higher price as well as the sale by the TCB at a cheaper price.
It reached as high as Tk 260 per kg at the retail markets on November 16.
The price started falling from November 17 after the Prime Minister on November 16 said that the government took initiatives to import onion through cargo planes to bring down the price along with the locally grown onion started arriving in the market.
However, it started to soar again from November 22 and shot upto Tk 270 on Wednesday.
In the last one month, the price of locally grown onion shot up by 104.55 percent while that of imported one by 72.09 percent, as per the TCB statistics.
The local variety of onion was selling at Tk 220-230 per kg while the imported one at Tk 160-210 on Tuesday. The price was Tk 30-40 and Tk 25-30 respectively during the same period last year.
According to the TCB, local onion was selling at Tk 210-220 while the imported one at Tk 140-200 on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Palash Mahmud, executive director of Conscious Consumers’ Society (CCS), a consumer rights organization, alleged that a syndicate of traders pocketed around Tk 3,180 crore in the last four months by manipulating the onion market.
He also said the onion price saw at least a 400 percent hike from July to October.
“Farmers used to sell onion at Tk 8-13 per kg during this season but the price has now skyrocketed to over Tk 250,” Palash said.
According to the TCB data, the onion was selling at Tk 80-95 per kg on October 15 while at Tk 90-100 on October 23 and at Tk 120-130 on October 31.
The bulb was selling for Tk 150-170 per kg on November 14 while Tk 200-220 on November 15, Tk 220-230 on November 16, Tk 200-215 on November 18, Tk 170-190 on November 22, Tk 180-200 on November 23, Tk 190-200 on November 24 and for Tk 200-210 on November 25.
However, visiting different kitchen markets in the capital on Thursday, it was found that onion was selling at a much higher price.
The local onion was selling at Tk 240-260 and the imported one at Tk 150-200 at the kitchen market in the city.
Manik Saha, a wholesaler at Shyambazar, said they sold local onion at Tk 170-180 a kg while the Burmese one at Tk 170, Egyptian one at 140 and Chinese variety at Tk 120 on Thursday.
Zillur Rahman, a shopkeeper at Konapara of the city, said he bought onion at Tk 242 per kg from wholesale market on Tuesday. “As I bought onion at a high price, I’m to sell it at a high price, too. Now, I’m selling per kg onion at Tk 260,” he said.
Subra Sinha, a resident of Shanir Akhra, said he bought 1 kg of locally grown good quality onion for Tk 270 from a shop.
Shamsur Rahman, an onion stockist at Shyambazar, told UNB that they were selling old stock of local variety for Tk 200 per kg and new onion for Tk 180-190 while the Burmese variety costs Tk 180-190 a kg.
He also said they had no stock of Egyptian, Chinese and Pakistani varieties of the bulb for lack of supply.
Shamsur also said the onion price will come down by 50 percent within two weeks as locally produced onion and imported ones started to hit the market.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Ghulam Rahman said there is an annual demand of around 30 lakh tonnes of onion in the country with one-thirds of it requiring to import.
He said a syndicate of importers, stockists, wholesalers and retailers took the advantage of the supply crunch following the India’s ban on the onion export and jacked up the price. “The onion prices soared to Tk 250 per kg at retail market which was Tk 20-25 in January-February this year.”
Ghulam Rahman said had the government taken steps earlier, consumers would not have to suffer.
He, however, expressed the hope that the onion price will come down to Tk 20-40 a kg in December once local onion and imported ones are available in large quantities in the market.
Dr Shahidul Islam, director general of the Directorate of Customs Intelligence and Investigation (CIID), told journalists at his Kakrail office recently that the country imported over 167,806 tonnes of onion from August to November 18 last at a cost of Tk 660 crore.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the onion price will become stable within the first week of December when imported and local onions hit the market. “Some 12,000 tonnes of imported onion will reach Chattogram port on November 29. The onion will be available in market within the next 10 days. Each kg cost Tk 32 to reach the port. It’ll be sold at maximum Tk 60 per kg. Besides, local onion will hit the market during this time,” he said. Source: UNB