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Bangladesh - 3 weeks ago

Onion prices soar above Tk 100 amid supply shortage

Staff Correspondent: Onion prices have surged past Tk 100 per kilogram (kg) due to a supply shortage of local varieties and a decrease in imports from neighboring India, traders reported.
On Wednesday, onions were selling for Tk 100 to 110 per kg at various kitchen markets in the capital city, with other daily necessities also experiencing significant price increases.

Green chilies were selling at over Tk 250 per kg, and broiler chicken eggs were priced at Tk 150-160 per dozen. Recent rains have also caused price hikes for some vegetables.
Inflation has remained above 9% for the past 14 years, primarily driven by the higher prices of daily essentials. Food inflation has been particularly burdensome for the population.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) estimated overall inflation in May at 9.89%, with food inflation at 10.76%.
During visits to kitchen markets at Shewrapara, Taltala, and Karwan Bazar in Dhaka, local onions were seen selling at significantly higher prices compared to the previous two weeks.
Retailers mentioned that they began the onion season this year with high prices. In February, newly harvested onions were priced at Tk 80-100 per kg, rising to Tk 120 in March. The price dipped slightly in April but started rising again shortly after.
During Eid-ul-Azha, onions were selling at Tk 80-90 per kg, but prices have now increased to Tk 100-110, marking a rise of Tk 20 in just fifteen days. Traders revealed that prices have soared by Tk 10 in the last three days alone.
Wholesale traders indicated that consumers have increasingly turned to local onions due to a suspension of imports from India for four to five months. Although India has recently resumed onion exports, it has imposed a 40% duty, elevating import costs.
Moreover, imported onions are now more expensive than the local variety, as prices in India have also soared.
Abdul Majed, a wholesale trader at Shyambazar in Dhaka, confirmed that the amount of onions imported from India has reduced significantly.
According to the Department of Agriculture Marketing, the price of local onions typically remains below Tk 40 during the peak season. However, prices have been unusually high this year.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) estimated that onions were sold at Tk 45-60 per kg even during the peak season in April.
Expressing frustration over the market scenario, Sajidul Islam, a private service holder, said he used to buy onions at Tk 40 per kg but now has to pay more than double. “We are in a helpless situation due to the surge in prices,” he lamented.
The Department of Agricultural Marketing noted that the country’s annual onion demand is nearly 3 million tonnes, with one-third met by imports.
The Department of Agricultural Extension estimated that around 3.5 million tonnes of onions were produced in the fiscal year 2022-23, slightly less than the preceding year’s 3.6 million tonnes.
This indicates that the country is producing more onions than its demand, suggesting there should be no shortage in the market.
Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said supply disruptions could lead to increased commodity prices. However, the main issue is inflation, which has reduced people’s purchasing power without a corresponding rise in income.
As a result, consumers are struggling to afford high-priced commodities, he noted, urging authorities to focus on reducing inflation and increasing people’s income.

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