Traders reduce onion price hearing about import decision

OnionFile photo

Onion price dropped by Tk3-5 per kg at Khatunganj in Chattogram, the largest wholesale market in the country, immediately after publish of news reports that the government may allow import of the kitchen products.

Following this the price of onion at the retail level also has come down by at least Tk 5 per kg.

The government on 15 March temporarily stopped issuing import permit for onion as a measure to protect the interest of local producers. As a result the stock of imported onion fell. This has led to hike in price of local onion at the beginning of this month.

The wholesale price of onion reached up to Tk 75 per kg at the end of second week this month. Then the product was sold at Tk 80 per kg at the retail level.

In this context, commerce minister Tipu Munshi recently wrote a letter to agriculture ministry requesting it to allow import of the cooking essential. The agriculture ministry also informed media a week ago that it might allow onion import to curb the price. The price has started coming down as soon as the news was carried by various media.

The price of onion at Khatunganj was Tk 70-72 per kg on Sunday. Speaking about this to Prothom Alo, Mohammad Idris, general secretary of Hamidullah Mia Market Traders Association in Khatunganj, said the price is declining due to the fear that the price would slump if onion is imported.

It was found after visiting five markets in Chattogram on Sunday that the onion was being sold at Tk 80-85 at the retail level which was Tk 90 a few days ago.

The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) last week informed media about the data of onion production, demand and import in the country. It said the production cost of onion is currently Tk 28-30 per kg. This year the production was about 3.4 million tonnes and the current stock is about 1.83 million tonnes. The annual demand of onion in the country is 2.6-2.8 million tonnes, DAE added.

The Department of Agricultural Extension further said as the onion import was unrestricted in 2021-22FY, the price was Tk 30-35 per kg that year. The farmers were deprived of fair price that year. The agricultural ministry temporarily stopped the import of the product to maintain farmers' interest in cultivating onions.

As per the import data, a total of 624,000 tonnes of onion have been imported in ongoing 2022-23FY as of 20 May. But no onion has been imported from India since 15 March. The amount of the import at this time of 2021-22FY was 690,000 tonnes.