Shoot up Tk 250 per kg
Farhad Chowdhury: Neighboring country India just announced the ban on exports. And that’s like a fire in the onion market of Bangladesh. One price in the morning and another price at night. Somewhere in street shops, the prices rise from the roots to the peaks. The wholesale price is not in anyone’s hands. Traders from all over the country put a knife in the pocket of the helpless customer yesterday. Many buyers came down to buy this spicy product. Some have stockpiled unnecessarily. Disappear from the market somewhere. And that’s why onion has increased from Tk 90 to Tk 110 per kg in a span of 24 hours and now it is being sold at Tk 250.
There is no one to see the onions in the market for two days. Although the National Directorate of Consumer Protection came to the field, the dishonest traders have mastered the manipulation.
Yesterday, this government agency fined 133 business organizations across the country.
In this background, the people concerned are talking about the rapid import of onion from other countries to control the market. However, the inability to open the Import Letter of Credit (LC) has become a hindrance. For that, banks should give LC on priority basis. If not, they think that price control may be difficult.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce is reeling in the scandal of the onion market. It has been said by the ministry that how to increase the import from alternative countries is going on. At the same time, onion sales will continue for low-income people through TCB. Despite the claims of the National Directorate of Consumer Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture has delayed allowing imports. If we had arranged the import earlier, we would not have had to face such a risk.
How many kg now?
Around 10 am last Friday, desi onion was sold at Tk 136 to Tk 140 per kg and Indian onion at Tk 106 to Tk 110 per kg. Around 11am, the market started to get volatile after the news of India’s export ban broke. The traders entered into an unequal competition to increase the price with the amount of onion they had. Some closed shop hoping to sell at higher prices. At one point on that evening, good quality desi onions were sold for Tk 200 and Indian onion for Tk 160. However, after visiting Karwan Bazar, Malibagh, Hatirpool, Mohammadpur Town Hall Market of the capital yesterday, it was found that the prices have increased further and at the retail level, desi onions are being sold at Tk 240 to Tk 250 and Indian onion is being sold at Tk 180 to Tk 200. Apart from this, large-sized Chinese onions are being sold at Tk 130 to Tk 140 with a maximum increase of Tk 60 per kg. In other words, three types of onions increased from Tk 60 to Tk 110 per kg in one day. However, compared to other small markets, all types of onions are sold at least Tk 10 to Tk 20 lower in Karwan Bazar. Besides, most of the stores saw less supply of the product compared to the last two days.
Meanwhile, in Khatunganj of Chittagong, onions disappeared from most places after noon yesterday. It is seen in many places, there is ginger and garlic but no onion.
Businessmen are doing ‘robbery’
Due to the rapid increase in prices, the fear of record prices in 2019 is chasing the buyers. Expressing outrage, buyers say prices have doubled overnight. Such cases are rare in any country in the world. Traders are literally “cutting the pockets” of consumers. This dishonest activity should be stopped immediately by importing from alternative countries.
Yesterday, a buyer named Abdul Halim in Hatirpool of the capital said, ‘Yesterday I saw on TV that India has stopped exporting. Today the price has become Tk 190. But two days ago, I bought Indian onion for Tk 110. Businessmen are robbing. The government does not care about this.
Abdul Hannan, an onion trader in Karwan Bazar, said that the farmers have also increased the price due to the news of India’s export ban. The supply of onion in Mokam (wholesale market of production area) has decreased. A kg of wholesale desi onion is being sold at around Tk 200. Along with this, there are other costs including transportation. He said that mainly because of the increase in the price at the wholesale level, it has increased in the retail.
India’s Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) last Thursday banned the export of onions till March 31 to control prices in the country’s domestic market. On October 29, India fixed the export price of onion at $800 per tonne, which was said to be in force till December 31. However, before December 31, the country has completely stopped exporting.
Haroon ur Rashid, President of Hili Land Port’s Import-Export Group, said, “Indian businessmen are not giving the onion which was LC. Can be brought from other countries. To be brought by ship. And if you want to bring it to the ship, it will not be enough to bring one or two containers. Can’t even be brought. Shipload to be brought. If you want to bring more onion, you have to take LC of $5 million. But bank doesn’t want to give LC more than $20-25 thousand. This is the big problem. Requesting to increase the amount of LC for daily commodities on priority basis, he said, “The bank is not giving LC for daily commodities like onions. But luxury products are being imported.
Blaming Ministry of Agriculture
AHM Safikuzzaman, director general of the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate, believes that there is a danger due to the late importation. He said, “From previous experience, it was said last May that India may stop exports.” This will create instability in the onion market. For that, the Ministry of Agriculture is recommended to allow the import. At that time, if the import initiative was taken, the country would have received a lot of onions by now. This situation would not have been created.
He said, “After the price increase on Friday, the operation was conducted across the country yesterday. 133 business organizations have been fined Tk 6 lakh 66 thousand. But if the import is stopped, there is doubt as to how much the market can be controlled by this campaign.
When asked about this, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said, “Traders have taken the opportunity of India’s export ban.” It’s not right. However, the Consumer Affairs Department is conducting an operation to control the market. He said, “This time of the year, the demand is usually met with Indian onions.” But at that time India stopped the export. Now how to import from other countries is going on. But sales through TCB will continue for poor people.
Meanwhile, according to sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, from June 5 to December 7, 19 lakh 93 thousand 291 tons of onions have been allowed to be imported. Of this, 7 lakh 5 thousand 437 tons have been imported.
An official of the Ministry of Agriculture said that now some summer onions are coming to the market. Among them, the yield has been somewhat damaged by the recent rains. Root onions will take some time to come.
Farmers fear loss
Meanwhile, the farmers of Pabna’s Santhia are frustrated due to the recent rains. Their concern is that onion planting may be delayed this year. There is fear of their financial loss. Upazila Agriculture Department said that 10 percent of the country’s total onion production is produced in Santhia. There, the target of onion cultivation has been set in 17,100 hectares of land in the current season. In the meantime, 1,600 hectares of land have been planted with root onion (tubers). The remaining 15,500 hectares of land will be planted with onion or seedling method.
Meanwhile, on the news of stoppage of onion from India, onion was sold at Tk 8,000 to Tk 9 thousand yesterday in Santhia, which was Tk 4,000 to Tk 5 thousand last Friday.
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