Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has said onion prices will come down soon as importers are bringing onions from Egypt instead of India due to higher prices.
The minister, however, also asked Chittagong Port Authority to ensure delivery of essential goods, especially onion, within 48 hours to speed up supply.
The minister came up with the remarks while speaking at a meeting with the commodity importers at his office on Thursday.
Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose was also present at the meeting.
“Bangladesh imports onion from India to meet local demands. Onion price in our kitchen market has gone up as its price spiked in Indian market due to flood in the neighbouring country,” said Tofail Ahmed.
There is nothing to do in this regard, the minister said, adding that as an alternative, onion is being imported from Egypt and would be available in the market soon that will bring the price down.
The move was taken following the recent hike in onion prices at kitchen market. As of Thursday, per kilogramme of onion was sold at between Tk50 and Tk55, which was at Tk30 two weeks ago.
According to the Commerce Ministry data, Bangladesh's yearly demand for onion is 22,00,000 tones while local produce stood at 21,30,000 tones last year.
In FY'16, Bangladesh imported 5,78,000 tones of the spicy vegetable while it has already made an import of 11,05,000 tones.
The importers blamed port congestion for delay in delivery of the imported goods, which is somewhat responsible for the price hike.
Zahir Uddin Ahmed, an onion importer, said they are making import from Egypt and it costs Tk28 to 30 per kg.
“If we get timely delivery, onion price will come down.”
In response to the minster’s call, the Chittagong port authority said it would take steps to ensure quick delivery of imported onions.
Talking about the stock of essential goods, the minister said there are enough stocks of commodities including garlic, sugar, ginger, salt, etc, ahead of Eid ul-Azha.
The prices of these goods will remain stable, he added.
On the other hand, wholesalers blame the retailers for price spiral as there is a huge gap between retail and wholesale prices.
Golam Mawla, general secretary of Moulvi Bazar Bebsayi Samity, said: “There is a huge gap between retail and wholesale prices. Per kg sugar is sold at Tk49 in wholesale market while it is Tk60 in retail market and Tk70 when packed.”
The minister asked the retailers of essential commodities, especially onions, to reduce gap between wholesale and retail prices.