However, the minister also said that onion prices would stabilize within a month as there was enough supply of the item
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Wednesday blamed consumers’ panic buying and dishonest traders for the rise in onion prices in the country’s kitchen markets.
However, the minister also said that onion prices would stabilize within a month as there was enough supply of the item.
An additional stock of onions was being imported from different countries as well, he added.
Tipu Munshi was speaking at a media briefing to provide an update on the stock, supply and price situation of onions at the Secretariat in the capital.
“Taking advantage of India’s ban on exports of onions, a group of dishonest traders are manipulating onion prices. Secondly, consumers’ panic buying is also aggravating people’s sufferings,” he observed.
Just a year after an earlier ban on onion export to Bangladesh and its subsequent lifting, on September 15 the Indian government again banned exports of all types of onions to Bangladesh, citing a shortage in supply in India itself due to heavy rainfall and prolonged floods.
The minister argued that consumers bought more onions than needed in fear of a further rise in prices.
Currently there are 600,000 tons of onions in stock in the country. In addition, more onions are being imported by the private sector as well as the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) from different countries such as Turkey and Egypt, the minister stated.
Learning from earlier experience, the government had taken precautionary steps prior to the ban on onion export by the Indian government, he added.
In addition, more onions will enter Bangladesh from India within a day or two, as they had already been procured through letters of credit (LCs), said Tipu Munshi.
To ensure smooth supply and keep prices reasonable, the government had already taken steps by selling onions through TCB. So the prices of onions will be stable in the local markets within a month, said Tipu, urging people not to buy more onions than they needed.
He also said that if needed, onions would be sold through e-commerce platforms by TCB.
On top of that, the Commerce Ministry has sent a letter to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) requesting it to withdraw a 5% import duty on onions until March 2021.
On the other hand, the ministry has also asked land and seaport authorities to release imported onions on a priority basis to ensure uninterrupted supply.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Bangladesh consumes 2.5 million tons of onions per annum, while it produces 2.56 million tons.
Since it is a perishable crop, about 25% of onions are wasted, which means Bangladesh's net production stands at about 1.9 million tons.
The rest of the demand is met through import, mostly from India. In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh imported 459,000 tons of onions, which was 1.91 million tons in fiscal year 2018-19.
During July-August period of the current fiscal year, Bangladesh imported 184,000 tons of onions.