Steps taken to expedite onion imports, he says
India does not take into account its neighbor's problems, said Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, expressing frustration with New Delhi's decision of stopping onion exports to Bangladesh.
“India is our neighbour. When they have a problem with any goods, they don’t care about their neighbors. If the prices of any essential goods rise in their market, they impose taxes on exports, sometimes even ban exports,” he said.
In 2011, they (India) banned onion exports despite having a surplus production, the minister said, adding: "This time they have banned exports as prices have increased in their domestic market."
The minister made the remarks speaking at an agricultural workshop of theBangladesh Agricultural Research Council, at Farmgate in Dhaka on Wednesday. The Fall Army Worm, an agricultural insect pest, was the workshop topic.
Saying that the high price of onions in Bangladesh is temporary, the minister said the government is trying hard to import the perishable food item from other countries.
As such, the ministry is importing this kitchen essential from Egypt, Turkey, and Myanmar, and the commerce ministry has also started conducting drives at wholesale markets to curb exploitative price gouging.
To complement these efforts at managing prices, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) is also selling 'fair price' onions from trucks in urban areas, he said.
“People are having a little trouble. The media is also sensitive [on this issue]. I will say that this is not our staple food, but our primary spice. We consume this in huge quantities,” he said.
"Onion and garlic are crops that farmers have to sell in the production year as these essentials cannot be preserved for long," he added.
However, he admitted that the government had failed to properly plan for market shortages of these commodities due to a change in rainfall.
"In fact, we should have a plan ahead of the production season. We couldn't do it because it started raining earlier than usual and we had some losses production. It's been raining since late March. Because of this, onion production has declined. Consequently prices are also unusually high,” he said.
He assured that under these circumstances, steps have been taken to import onions from abroad and that law enforcement has also been engaged to tackle the [price gouging] situation.