Kitchen bags continue to feel heavier for consumers with the continued rise in onion and rice prices over the last week.
Customers now have to pay Tk120 to buy a kg of onion or a chicken of the same quantity.
In Dhaka's retail markets, local onions were sold at Tk120 per kg as of Monday, whereas the price stood at Tk95 just a week ago.
Imported onions, on the other hand, were sold at Tk90, compared to last week's rate of Tk85.
Kazi Keya, a housewife, decided to cook chicken without onions when she visited Karwan Bazar's kitchen market Monday.
“The price of such an essential item should not be this high. If I knew this earlier, I would have stocked up.”
She also noticed that the price of fish and meat have remained the same, but one needs to spend at least Tk80 to buy good vegetables.
Traders claim the onion prices started to skyrocket from December 6 due to supply shortage.
The old stock of onions are about to run out and importing from India has turned out to be much costlier than before.
At the same time, the expected supply from local onion farmers has been delayed.
The rise in onion prices is likely to continue for the next two weeks, until the harvest of Rabi season arrives, observed traders.
Abul Kalam Azad, proprietor of SS Trading at Dhaka's Shyambazar wholesale market, told the Dhaka Tribune that this is a result of Cyclone Mora that hit India earlier this year, damaging crops in many states, including Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.
“Since then, the supply of imports has been poor. The recent decision by the Indian authorities to set the minimum export price at $850 has aggravated the crisis as well,” he said.
According to the importer, farmers in many districts that produce onions, including Pabna, Faridpur and Ishwardi, have also failed to harvest their crops in time because of rain.
Narayan Chandra Saha, another wholesaler at Shyambazar, claimed most of the traders had already run out of 90% of their onion stock.
He said: “The farmers will have to wait for seven days after the rain stops. This means it might take at least 15 more days for the arrival of the new stock that would eventually lead to price stabilisation.”
When contacted, Consumers Association of Bangladesh President Golam Rahman, alleged that dishonest traders were behind the unusual rise in prices in the market, claiming the supply remains normal.
“The government should keep track of production figures and ensure strict monitoring at both the retail and wholesale levels to help consumers,” he said.
According to sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh has a demand of around 2.2 million metric tons of onions per year and has domestically produced 1.9 million metric tons of onions in the current year.
The shortage of onions should not have exceeded 300,000 metric tons. However, Bangladesh imported a total of 770,875 metric tons of onions from January 1 to October 17.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the prices of local and imported onions stood at Tk 35 and Tk25 a year ago.
Rice price rises, vegetables stable
The price of both coarse and fine rice has also gone up since December 9, according to the TCB.
Coarse rice was selling at Tk42-Tk46. On December 9, the price range was Tk40-Tk45.
The price of fine rice has increased by Tk1-2 over the same period.
Price of other essential commodities, including vegetables, however, remained stable.
A 5 litre bottle of soybean oil was selling at Tk530 and the 1 litre ones at Tk109, sugar at Tk58 per kg, salt at Tk38 per kg, as of Monday.
The price of chicken stood at Tk120 per kg, a Tk10 rise from last week while the price of beef and mutton remained unchanged at Tk500 per kg and Tk750 per kg respectively. A dozen eggs sold at Tk84.