Onion prices increase again

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Visiting several kitchen markets in the capital on Saturday, a kg of the local onion was found selling at Tk200 on an average, which had come down to Tk120 just three days ago from the Tk260 per kg

Onion prices have once again jumped by Tk30-80 per kilogram in last two days despite arrival of newly harvested local variety, Murikata, in markets for many days now.    

Visiting several kitchen markets in the capital on Saturday, a kg of the local onion was found selling at Tk200 on an average, which had come down to Tk120 just three days ago from the Tk260 per kg.

Chinese onion retailed at Tk80 per kg on Saturday, up from Tk50 on Monday. Per kg Pakistani onion sold at Tk130 on the day, up by Tk30. 

Besides, prices of other imported varieties of onion, now available in small quantities in markets, also increased substantially. 

Traders have blamed supply shortage for the price hike.

The newly harvested local onion started to hit the markets late last month (December), which helped bring down the onion prices soaring for last few months, said Abdul Mazed, onion wholesaler and vice president of  Shyambazar Traders Association. 

However, the supply shortage occurred again now as farmers could not harvest onion due to drizzle across the county in last few days, he said, adding that cold wave also hit onion cultivation hard. 

Besides, onion imports were low in last two to three days, the wholesaler added. 

Mazid hoped that the supply might increase within two or three weeks with the harvesting of the local variety of onion in full swing. 

He, however, was not optimistic about onion prices coming down to usual prices. “Farmers expended higher amount in onion production this year, as seeds were pricer,” he said. 

In Saturday’s market visit, prices of some other essential commodities including edible oil were also found to have gone up compared to the previous week.

Edible oil prices increase by Tk5-10 per litre on an average. A five-litre can of soybean oil was selling at Tk495-515 on Saturday, which was Tk485-510 last week. 

Traders said the edible oil price increased in international market, which caused price hike in local market. 

Besides, prices of several vegetables, chilli and potato were found higher by at least Tk2-3 on Saturday.

Per kg bean sold at Tk55-60, eggplant Tk40-60, radish Tk30, papaya Tk30 and tomato Tk50, chilli Tk40-50 and potato Tk30-35 on the day.

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Thursday said the government would import two lakh tons of onion soon to meet local demand and keep the market stable.

The onion would be sold at low price through open market sales program by Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), he said.

According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), local variety of onion price increased by Tk135 per kg on an average over last year, a 467% jump. Before the increase, onion prices ranged from Tk25 to Tk30 per kg, the TCB data said. 

Consumers expressed their utter frustration over the price hikes of essentials and blamed lack of monitoring by the government. 

On September 13 last year, the Indian government increased minimum export price of onion at $850 per ton, which resulted in onion prices hike in Bangladesh’s kitchen markets.

India banned onion exports on September 29, leading to further price hike in Bangladesh’s kitchen markets.

Two months before that, onion used to sell at Tk25-40 and now jumped to Tk260 per kg for the first time in the country.  

To tackle the crisis, the Bangladesh government imported onion from Myanmar, Turkey, Egypt and few other countries.

Bangladesh Tariff Commission and the Ministry of Commerce said the country needed 26 lakh tons of onion annually, while the Department of Agriculture Extension (DEA) said the country produced 23 lakh tons.