The consignment of onions is expected to reach Chittagong port early next month
As a precautionary measure to avert untoward incidents like those in the previous year, the government has already taken steps to import onions from Turkey and Egypt .
The consignment of onions is expected to reach Chittagong port early next month.
Meanwhile, before the onion export ban declared by India and considering the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic and flood situation in the country, the TCB started open market sales (OMS) of onions at Tk30 per kilogram across the country from Sunday.
On Sunday, the Indian government banned exports of onions, citing a shortage in supply due to heavy rainfall and prolonged floods.
A high official at the Commerce Ministry confirmed to Dhaka Tribune the government decision to import onions from alternative sources to ensure enough supply of the key cooking ingredient in the local kitchen markets.
“Having learnt from last year’s bitter experience, we have already taken steps to import onions from alternative sources,” Md. Ziaur Rahman, Trade Consultant at the Price Monitoring and Forecasting Cell of the Commerce Ministry told Dhaka Tribune.
However, he did not mention the names of the sourcing countries and their arrival schedules.
Another official at the ministry, seeking anonymity, told Dhaka Tribune: “We had a bitter experience last year over onion prices as India’s sudden ban on exports of onions had pushed prices of the cooking ingredient abnormally up. Taking that experience into consideration, the government has already taken steps to import onions from Turkey and Egypt.”
For Bangladesh the main source for onion imports is Turkey as it has enough supplies of the bulb. In line with the decision, the government had already opened Letters of Credit (LCs) through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and the onions would reach the country by the first week of October, said the official.
According to onion importers, about 90% of onions are imported from India. On the other hand, there is a stock of about six lakh and a half tons of onions in the country.
The sudden rise in the prices of onions was a manipulation by traders as they had not bought onions at higher prices, said the official.
Locally produced onion prices shot to Tk120 per kilogram in the capital’s kitchen markets just a day after India’s ban on export came into effect. Onions were sold at Tk80 a kilogram only a day earlier.
On the other hand, imported onions were retailing at Tk 90 per kg, which was Tk50-55 on the previous day.
Responding to a query on the unusual rise in onion prices, Md. Ziaur Rahman said monitoring teams had been deployed at different markets so that no one could manipulate onion prices.
According to Bangladesh Bank data, in July and August traders imported 1.29 lakh tons and 83,666 tons of onions, respectively.
On the other hand, as per Bangladesh Tariff Commission data, during the January-August period of 2020, Bangladesh imported 4.63 lakh tons of onions.