A supply crunch has pushed up onion prices by an average of 80 percent in Dhaka’s kitchen markets compared to last year.
Traders said prices of locally grown onion increased 85 percent while imported ones rose 75 percent in retail market compared to same period last year.
Visiting different kitchen markets, the UNB correspondent found that each kg of locally grown onions were being sold at Tk 150-160 and imported varieties at Tk 60-100 on Friday.
Last year, local onion cost Tk20-26 and the imported varieties Tk 20.
According to state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), a kg locally-grown new onion was selling at Tk 120-130 on Friday, Tk 100 more compared to the same period last year. Besides, the imported bulb was selling at Tk 70-120 which was Tk20 in 2019.
Shamshur Rahman, a wholesaler of Shayambazzar, told UNB that the local variety was yet to hit the market fully and there is a shortage of Indian onion.
“The prices will come down to Tk 35-40 shortly after the local variety hits the market in full swing. The price of onions will fall by Tk 50 in a single day when Indian onions start coming,” he claimed.
Rahman said the price will come down gradually as a huge amount of onion is waiting to be harvested.
Hasibul Islam, a shopkeeper in old Dhaka, blamed local syndicates and stockists for the unusual price hike.
“We sell onion at high prices because we purchase them at higher rates from wholesalers,” he said. “We sold onions at Tk20-25 last year but we have to sell it over Tk150 this year. The government has failed to control kitchen markets.”
According to the Commerce Ministry, the annual demand for onions in Bangladesh ranges between 2.2 and 2.5 million tonnes. Although the country’s own annual production of onions has risen, so has the imported amount gradually over the last decade.
An export ban by India last year sent onion prices skyrocketing. The local markets are still reeling from the shock.
Commerce Ministry figures show the amount imported was hardly 0.4 million tonnes in FY' 09, but had touched upto 1.1 million tonnes in recent years.
Asma Begum, a resident of Najirabaazar, said prices of other daily essentials had rose greatly this year compared to 2019.
“We’re upset to see the activities of the government. Poor people are suffering but a number of big businessmen are making extra profits. The government should think about the poor,” she said.
Meanwhile, price of soybean oil increased 12.5 percent per litre and palm oil (super) went up 23.53pc while flour increased 24.56pc compared to previous year, according to TCB.
On the other hand, per kg lentil price rose 25.81pc, ginger 43.18pc, dry pepper 60pc and small cardamom increased 144.44pc this year.