19 trucks with 459 tons of onion enter Hili, Sonamasjid land ports
Onion prices across the country fell on Saturday after India allowed export of pre-contracted onions to Bangladesh five days after placing an export ban.
At least 19 onion-laden trucks with 459 tons entered Bangladesh through Hili and Sonamasjid land ports on Saturday afternoon, as only those consignments were allowed which were pre-contracted on September 13.
The move was made to allow onion-laden trucks to enter Bangladesh through various land ports across the country as their letters of credit (LC) to import at least 10,000 tons of onions were approved before the ban was announced.
India has stopped exporting onions to Bangladesh since September 14.
Traders said after the announcement, prices also began to fall in the capital's kitchen markets.
Visiting several kitchen markets in the capital on the day, this correspondent found the local variety of onions retailing for Tk80-90 per kilogram, down by Tk10-20 per kg from last week.
It was sold in wholesale markets for Tk65-70 per kg, which was Tk85-90 per kg last week after the ban came into effect.
Indian onions were retailing for Tk65-70 per kg and Tk50-60 per kg in wholesale markets.
Onion prices shot up by Tk30-50 per kg on Tuesday, after the export ban was announced. Local onions sold for as high as Tk120 per kg, even though it retailed below Tk35 per kg even in August.
Indian onions retailed for Tk90 per kg on Tuesday despite being sold for Tk50-55 per kg on Monday and Tk25-30 per kg in August.
Md Jewel, a wholesaler at Karwanbazar, said onion prices were already high since the beginning of September due to supply shortage as a result of its off-season, but the Indian export ban aggravated the prices.
Pradip Kumar, a consumer, said he had intended to purchase onions on Saturday, but decided not to after receiving word of incoming Indian onions in the coming days.
Prices previously increased after the Indian government imposed an export ban on the commodity on Monday.
Bangladesh is largely able to meet its annual requirement of about 2.5 million tons of onions from domestic production but imports from India make up almost 90% of the shortfall.
Prices also dip in Hili
Onion prices on Saturday came down to Tk50-60 per kg in Hili, which was Tk70-75 per kg even on Friday.
Abdul Khaleq and Saidul Islam came to buy onions at the warehouses of Hili land port.
They said that the price of onions shot up ever since India banned export of the bulb to Bangladesh last week.
"As a result, retailers like us are struggling to buy onions, and many are refraining from buying onions due to high prices. Although prices were high even on Friday, today they have dropped by Tk15-20 per kg with the announcement of new consignments," they added.
Harun Ur Rashid, president of Hili Land Port Imports and Exporters Association, said although the move to allow the stranded trucks to Bangladesh was better late than never, he was sceptical as to the quality of those onions.
"Many are sure to have turned rotten by now, but we have to wait and see the extent of rot," he added.
Sohrab Hossain, communications officer at Hili land port, acknowledged the arrival of 11 trucks with 246 tons of onions at the port, and said necessary steps were taken to expedite the clearing process of those onions.
8 trucks enter Sonamasjid
At least eight onion-laden trucks entered Bangladesh on Saturday from Mohodipur land port in India to Sonamasjid land port in Chapainawabganj.
Saifur Rahman, assistant customs commissioner at the land port, confirmed to Dhaka Tribune, adding that at least 213 tons of onion entered the port yesterday.
Toufiqur Rahman, president of Sonamasjid Land Port Importer-Exporters Association, said only the consignments whose LCs were approved before the export ban, were allowed to enter Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, traders say that most of the imported onions have rotted, and they were fearing massive losses as a result.
A visit to the land port revealed that a truckload of imported onions was dripping with rotting onion juice, also spilling on the ground.