Chattogram, Nov 14 (UNB) – The price of onion moved up further by Tk 40-60 to Tk 180-200 per kg at the retail market here on Thursday, proving futile the government’s all mechanisms to cool down the overheated onion market, and much to the anger of consumers.
Consumers alleged that unscrupulous businessmen continued to raise the onion price through syndication as the ‘government has no control over the market’.
However, traders at Khatunganj wholesale market blamed the supply shortage as the import against the demand is inadequate as well as the failure to release the imported onion from ports due to cyclone Bulbul for the skyrocketing price of the cooking ingredient.
Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Dr Jafar Uddin on Thursday said the onion price will not start falling to the previous level before the first week of December.
Visiting different markets, it was found that all varieties of onion -– local, Myanmar, Egyptian and Indian -- were selling at Tk 190-Tk 200 per kg at retail market on Thursday.
In wholesale markets, local onion was selling at Tk 160-Tk 180, Myanmar onion at Tk 140-Tk 165, Egypt onion at Tk 135-Tk 140 and Indian onion at Tk 130.
The price was Tk 115-Tk 120, Tk 105-Tk 110, Tk 90-Tk 98 and Tk 130-Tk 140 respectively three days back.
In the capital, the wholesale price of onion was Tk 180 per kg at Karwanbazar on Thursday.Talking to UNB, wholesaler Md Mosharraf said the price has gone up as the demand is much higher than the supply.
Another wholesaler Md Alamgir Hossain said he sold local variety of onion at Tk 190 per kg on Thursday and it will rise further on Friday. “If the onion supply reduces in the wholesale market, the price gets higher naturally in retail markets,” he said.
Bolai Kumar, a wholesale trader at Khatunganj, blamed the government and the local administration for the price hike, saying, “Without finding out the key reason behind the crisis, they’re handing out jail terms and imposing fine on us.”
Had the import process made easier, the problem would not have arisen, he said, adding that the overheated onion market will not come under control anytime soon until the new onions hit the market. “It’ll take another one and half months for this.”
Mohammad Ali, retailer at Kazir Deuri Bazar, said he stopped selling onion from Wednesday fearing public wrath. “I sold onion at highest Tk 140-Tk 150 but now it reached Tk 200. People will beat me up if I try to sell onion at Tk 200.”
Meanwhile, common people, especially the low-income class, were hit hard by the skyrocketing onion price.
They vented their anger at the government for its failure to control the onion price.
“How will I manage my family if I spend Tk 200 for buying 1 kg onion,” said Jamsed Miah, a private service holder.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said there is enough stock of onions but those are not being released to the market. “It seems there’s stock of onions in the country and these are being rotten in many places. But onions are not being released to the market,” she said while delivering her valedictory speech of the 5th session of the 11th parliament.
She said some 50,000 tonnes of onion, which will arrive here soon from Egypt, will be sold through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB). “LC (Letter of Credit) has already been opened for importing 50,000 tonnes of onion from Egypt. These will arrive within a few days,” she said.
Contacted, the commerce secretary told UNB that the price went up as the arrival of locally-produced onion in the market was delayed by 20-25 days.
Besides, the government used to import 1,000 tonnes of onion from Myanmar but that has been reduced to only 400 tonnes, he said. “The onion price will come down by the first week of December when the locally-produced onions enter the market,” he added.
Jafar insisted the price of onion will stabilise when the imported onions and local produce enter the markets by the first week of December.
Humayun Kabir, information officer at the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), said 35 trucks carrying 1,000 kgs (a tonne) onions each are being sold in the capital at Tk 45 per kg every day.
On September 29, the Indian government banned onion export with immediate effect till further order for what it says improving domestic availability, which triggered the onion price hike.