An Indian truck with onion enters Bangladesh through Hili land port, Dinajpur
An Indian truck with onion enters Bangladesh through Hili land port, DinajpurProthom Alo file photo

Onion prices continue to remain high in Dhaka kitchen markets, despite imports coming into the country from neighbouring India, reports news agency UNB.

Retailers in markets like Anandabazar and Shyambazar, for instance, have been selling onions -- a staple in many Bangladeshi dishes -- between Tk 80 and Tk 120.

Despite around 1,000 tonnes of the bulb having come into this country from India through Satkhira’s Bhomra land port in three days, traders say they are yet to get the imports.

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According to Ashikur Rahman, a shopkeeper at Anandabazar, there is still a supply shortage in the capital, which is leading to a spike in onion prices in the capital markets.

“The prices of onions have already doubled over the week, following a ban imposed by the Indian government. Today I bought only local onions from the wholesale market at Tk 75 per kg. There is transportation cost too. So, I am selling onions for over Tk 100 to customers. We are yet to get Indian onions,” he told the news agency.

There are no Indian onions in the wholesale market due to the ban on exports to Bangladesh. So, we are compelled to sell only local onions at high prices, following huge demand. The 925 tonnes of Indian onions that recently entered Bangladesh are yet to reach the city markets
Manik Saha

Ashikur said Bangladesh is dependent on India for most products, not only onions. “If the Indian government imposes a ban on a single product, then it has a cascading effect on Bangladesh markets. Besides, many businessmen hoard onions to make extra money at times of shortage.”

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Shyambazar wholesaler Manik Saha echoed similar sentiments. “There are no Indian onions in the wholesale market due to the ban on exports to Bangladesh. So, we are compelled to sell only local onions at high prices, following huge demand. The 925 tonnes of Indian onions that recently entered Bangladesh are yet to reach the city markets.”

After the abrupt 14 September ban, India on 19 September 19 decided to partially relax the same by allowing limited exports of onions. But that did not help.

Saha fears that onion prices could see a sharp rise in the coming days if the Indian government doesn’t lift the ban on exports to Bangladesh. Onion is a seasonal crop and its shortage during the offseason often leads to price rise. “However, after 30 September, onion prices may stabilise as imports are likely to come in from Pakistan, Turkey and Myanmar.”

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UNB has learnt that 96 tonnes of onions in four trucks entered Bhomra through Ghojadanga land port of India on Monday, 721 tonnes in 31 trucks on Saturday and 108 tonnes in five trucks on Sunday.

Mostafizur Rahman Nasim, general secretary of Bhomra Land Port C&F Agents Association, however, said 40 onion-laden trucks were still stranded at the port. They had clearance but could not cross the border after India’s ban on export.

“Most of the onions rotted as the trucks were stuck at Ghojadanga for about a week now,” he said.

People, however, say that not only onions, prices of most vegetables in the kitchen markets are high these days in Dhaka.

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“Potatoes are selling at Tk 40 a kg, tomatoes Tk 120, green chillies Tk 200, bitter gourds at Tk 80 and carrots Tk 100. The government must act against traders who manipulate prices,” said Billal Hossain, a resident of Old Dhaka.