An artificial crisis created by syndicates of importers and various groups in different areas is behind the unusual hike in onion prices which reached Tk 220 in the capital’s markets on Friday, traders alleged.
Traders said it would take 30 to 45 more days for locally-produced onion to enter the markets as cyclone Bulbul, hailstorms and heavy rains damaged the crop, reports UNB.
Prices of onion started soaring after India banned its export on 29 September. The following day, onion - a key ingredient in Bangladeshi kitchen - cost about Tk 47 more per kg.
The government acted swiftly to initiate Open Market Sale programme to curb price hike and help fixed-income group people buy onion at lower rate.
Onion price kept rising despite the steps of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh. The commerce ministry on 28 October said the market will cool down after consignments of onions from Egypt and Turkey arrive.
But that assurance had no impact on the market as prices continued to soar amid import from Myanmar as an alternative source.
Almas Hossain, a wholesaler at Shyambazar, told UNB that onion prices may increase further if the government does not take immediate steps.
“The government should hold talks with India,” he added.
Almas said it takes 20-25 to import onion from Egypt, 10-15 days from Pakistan, and 2-5 days from Myanmar where it takes only one or two days to bring onion from India.
“Onions rot if it takes long to import. So, importing from India is best for us,” he added.
Wholesaler Md Shamsur Rahman of Kaptan Bazar told UNB that the onion market is unstable because the government did not take proper steps earlier.
“Today, we’re selling local onion at Tk 220 per kg, Myanmar’s onion at Tk 200, and Egyptian onion at Tk 180-190,” he said, adding that onion shortage in the market is the main reason for price hike.
Jannatul Ferdous Jafe, a resident of Jatrabari area, said, “Now we’re using a single onion for curry where we used over 250 grams earlier.”
Md Siddique Ali Abu Bakar, a trader of Karwan Bazar wholesale market told UNB that they sold onion at Tk 220 per kg on Friday.
“The price might rise up to Tk 240 per kg tomorrow (Saturday) as it has already increased in Pabna today (Friday). The wholesale price of onion was Tk 180 to Tk 190 per kg on Thursday. The price has gone up as the demand is much higher than the supply,” Siddique added.
Md Alamgir Hossain, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, told UNB that he sold local variety of onion at Tk 190 per kg on Thursday.
“The price will rise further,” he added.
Minhajul Islam, a film director, told UNB that he bought one kilogram onion at Tk 230 from Kuril kitchen market.
Alauddin, a senior officer of a private bank, said he bought onion from Mirpur-1 Prince Bazar at Tk 225 per kg.
Commerce secretary Jafar Uddin on Thursday said onion price will not decline before the first week of December.
“It’ll take 30-45 days for locally produced onion to hit the wholesale markets,” said Ridoy, a wholesaler of Karwan Bazar.
Another trader, declining to be named, told UNB that several syndicates of importers and groups in several areas are creating artificial crisis to take advantage of the ban imposed by India.
“Onion prices will continue to soar unless the government intervenes,” the trader said.