Prices of onion, a common item in Bangladeshi kitchen, soared again on Friday, fuelled by higher demands and a supply crunch as the imported bulb are yet to hit the markets.
Bangladesh has been struggling to control overheated prices of onion which reached an all-time high in recent days after India imposed an indefinite export ban on September 29. Officials say the ban is likely to remain in place until February next year.
Wholesale traders in Dhaka said the price of local variety of onion will not come down to Tk 100 per kg anytime soon. “New onion has started to hit the market but their quantities are not enough,” one of the traders said.
They said prices will not cool down until after the local onion or those imported from India arrive.
Nazrul Islam, a wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, said he has been selling local onion at Tk 180-185 per kg since Friday morning as demand pushed up the prices.
According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data, the local variety was selling at Tk 170-190 per kg while the imported one at Tk 140-160 on the day.
The local variety cost Tk 220-230 per kg while the imported ones at Tk 210-220 on Nov 16, TCB data showed. Barely a month ago, the local onion cost Tk 85-95 while the imported ones were sold at Tk 90-100.
Islam said the prices started to come down in the wholesale market after the government announced to import onion on an emergency basis but there was no change in the retail markets. “I suffered a loss of around Tk 50,000 last week as I sold local onion at low prices due to lack of customer as well as fearing punishment of mobile court,” he added.
Hridoy, another wholesaler at the market, said he usually sells 100-120 sacks of onion every day. “But I managed to sell only five to 10 sacks a day last week as there were very few customers,” he said. “But the demand increased on Friday and I’ve already sold 50 sacks.”
He said the local variety was being sold at Tk 175 per kg, while those from Egypt cost Tk 105-115.
The price of imported onion fell further after the first consignment of 81.5 tonnes arrived Wednesday from Pakistan. Another 105 tonnes of Egyptian onion was brought by air on Thursday evening.
Abul Kalam, a wholesaler from Karwan Bazar, said he had been selling Egyptian onion at Tk 110 per kg and Turkish at Tk 100.
Shamshur Rahman, a trader from Shyambazar, told UNB that they sold each kg of local onion at Tk 140-160 on Friday. The Burmese variety cost Tk 110-150, Egyptian variety Tk 100-Tk 150 and onion from China was sold at k70-95.
“The prices won’t decrease until new onion or those recently imported hit the markets,” he said.
Another wholesaler of the market, Manik Shaha said the price of onion has increased Tk5 -10 on Friday compared to Thursday at their market following increasing demand.
“There sold local onion at Tk 150-160 per kg, Egyptian variety at Tk 100 and Burmese variety at Tk 125-135 in Shyambazar. On the other hand, Pakistan variety’s price has been fixed at Tk 170,” he said.
Kaptan Bazar’s onion trader Humayun Kabir said they sold local onion at Tk 150-170, Burmese variety at Tk 150 and Egyptian variety at Tk130-Tk150 on Friday.
Meanwhile, price of onion in retail markets remained high compared to wholesale markets.
Zilani, a shop keeper at Bangshal, said they sold local onion atTk 240-250 per kg. The Burmese variety cost Tk 150-180.
Asked why they are selling onion at high prices despite a fall in the wholesale markets, he said, “We bought onions when prices were at their peak in the wholesale market. We’ll buy onions after selling our stock. We’ll sell onions at low prices if we can buy them at lower rates.