The greater demand of spring onion across the border in West Bengal fetches twice the standard price in Bangladesh
Locally produced spring onions, also known as scallions and green onions, are being smuggled into India through Dinajpur’s Hili border.
In winter, there is a surge in the demand of spring onions in West Bengal, where the crop is not as available as it is on this side of the border. Dinajpur and other northern districts grow spring onions and other seasonal vegetables in abundance. Due to a lack of export mechanism for vegetables, smuggling is the major channel for spring onions going to India.
Although the Border Guards Bangladesh sometimes intercept smuggling shipments, there is plenty of smuggling abound. Naib Subedar Mohsin Ali, commanding officer of a BGB outpost in Hili, says that over the past 15 days, they have seized nearly three tons of spring onions in three separate raids.
In Hili, spring onions are sold at Tk10/kg wholesale and Tk15/kg retail. But in India, the prices range between Tk25/30 per kilogram.
According to several sources, spring onions are a delicacy in West Bengal, and their fascination with the crop has led to the increase in smuggling.
A number of businessmen lamented the absence of a simple export facility which would allow them to export the spring onions to India legally and earn revenue for the government.
Hili Land Port Import Export Group President Harun-ur-Rashid spoke heavily in favour of exporting spring onion to India due to their huge demand and higher prices.
“In Bangladesh, very few people consume spring onions and the price nearly double in Indian markets. The governments of the two countries should sit together to discuss exports of vegetables through Hili port. It will help reduce smuggling and generate revenue for the government,” he said.