Prices surge every hour at retail, wholesale markets
Onion prices soared as high as Tk150 per kg on Wednesday in the capital’s kitchen markets, the highest in years, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data.
Local onion retailed at Tk140-150 a kg, and onion imported from Myanmar at Tk130, depending on varieties and qualities, at different kitchen markets.
On October 2, the wholesale prices of local and imported onions were at Tk60-70 a kg.
Traders and importers say prices of the essential cooking ingredient continue to soar due to supply crunch and spiraling demand in the domestic market.
Visiting a number of wholesale markets, traders were found taking the advantage of supply shortage.
At the Shyambazar wholesale market, onion prices were seen increasing every hour. On Wednesday at 10:00am, onion imported from Myanmar was found selling at Tk105 a kg, which increased to Tk115 a kg at 1:00pm.
Local onion, which was selling at Tk110 a kg in the morning in the same wholesale market, increased to Tk120 per kg within three hours.
However, no onion from India was found anywhere at Shyambazar.
On the other hand, the same variety of onion was selling at Karwan Bazar wholesale market at Tk130-135 per kg at 3:00pm.
Abdus Salam, a wholesale onion trader at Karwan Bazar, said local onion’s wholesale price was now Tk135 a kg. The price increased due to supply shortage and onion rotting at farmers’ chatal (storage), he said.
Another wholesaler Ridoy Mollik at Karwan Bazar said: “We bought local onion two days ago for Tk110 a kg and today we are selling this at Tk130."
“Earlier we could sell 200 to 250 sacks of onion a day, which decreased to 60 to 70 sacks due to high prices and supply shortage, along with lower demand from retailers,” said Ridoy.
He, however, admitted that traders were not counting losses due to soaring prices, rather they made profit in any market situation.
Another wholesaler at Karwan Bazar said for lack of monitoring onion prices were jumping every hour. The price became high because of hoarding by the importers, which created artificial crisis, he added.
Asked, Haji MD Mazed , an importer cum wholesaler at Shyambazar Krishi Ponno Arot Banik Somity could not give any appropriate reason for the jump in onion prices in a single day.
He, however, said every day wholesalers needed around 6,500 tons of onions at Shyambazar, which was now only 1,500 tons..
Mazed said: “It is not right that we hoard onion. It is the supply shortage. No Indian onions are being imported and Myanmar increased their prices due to their supply shortage.”
This situation would worsen if onion was not be imported from India immediately, he warned.
At Mohammadpur Town Hall kitchen market, onion was found selling at Tk140-150 per kg. Only a difference of Tk5 was noticed between local and imported onion.
Customers expressed their utter frustration over the skyrocketing prices of the key cooking ingredient.
“Every day the commerce minister and the commerce secretary assure us of cooling down the onion market, but every day the prices keep rising,” a frustrated Foyez Bhiyan told Dhaka Tribune.
“We can no longer afford the soaring prices of onion, despite we have halved the consumption,” he vented his frustration.
At a press conference in the city Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday termed onion the crisis temporary, saying there was nothing to worry about it.
"The crisis is temporary. It won't last for long. There's nothing to worry," she said while addressing the press conference at her official residence Ganobhaban on her Azerbaijan tour for attending the 18th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The Prime Minister said 55,000 tonnes of onions were entering the country.
Foods could be cooked without onion, she said, adding that many items were cooked without onion at her residence, too.