Onions from India have started arriving in Bangladesh through land ports on the border as the government announced resumption of onion import after over two months of restriction. The agriculture ministry took the decision to allow importing onions on Sunday (June 4, 2023) considering the unusual price hike. Two trucks loaded with 40 metric tonnes of Indian onions entered through Hili land port in Dinajpur at 5:45 pm today (June 6, 2023). Read more: Govt to allow onion import from Monday: Agriculture Ministry Shahidul Islam, an importer, said, “There has been a shortage of imported onions in the country since mid-March. As a result, the price of local onions skyrocketed in both retail and wholesale markets after Eid-ul-Fitr.” “In this situation, importers have been demanding that the government allow them to import onions from India, to keep the price stable. Keeping the traders and consumers in mind, the Ministry of Agriculture has given permission to import onions from India on Sunday,” he said. Although the imported onions are yet to reach the market, prices have already started to go down as the news broke. Read more: Proper preservation of onions to end instability, crisis: Agriculture Minister Moinul Haque, a retail trader at Hili Bazar, said onions were being sold at Tk 80 per kg this evening – Tk 5 less compared to this morning. “We may see a fall in onion prices in the coming days,” he said. Meanwhile, 57 onion-carrying trucks from India have entered the country through Sonamasjid land port in Chapainawabganj. Prabhat Kumar Singh, assistant commissioner of customs at Sonamasjid land port, said the trucks carrying 1,097 metric tonnes of onions have entered Bangladesh. Read more: Govt aiming to become self-sufficient in onions: Agriculture Minister “Trucks are allowed to enter the port only after receiving IP approved documents,” he said. The government stopped importing onions from India from March 16 this year to ensure fair prices for onions produced by local farmers.
Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque has said a decision on onion import will be taken within two to three days after monitoring the market situation. "I know that all middle- and limited-income people are suffering. The price of onion should not be Tk 80 per kg. At the policy level, we are putting emphasis on the interests of our local farmers,” the minister said while talking to reporters at his Secretariat office today (May 21, 2023). "We have discussed it at the highest level of policymaking. We are monitoring the market very closely. Insha'Allah, you will get a decision on whether we will import onions in 2-3 days," he said. Read more: Govt may allow onion import soon: Agriculture Secretary Last week, the Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akhter said the government is considering importing onions due to the hike in onion prices in the market. Due to government intervention, onion production in the country has increased by more than one million tonne in the last two years, according to the DAE (Department of Agricultural Extension). This year alone, more than 34 lakh tonnes of onion have been produced in the country. Meanwhile, the demand for onion in the country is 26 to 28 lakh tonnes per year. Read more: Govt to import 12,500 MT of sugar from US However, due to lack of proper storage system or adverse environment, 30-35% of locally produced.
The government is emphasizing cultivation of onions during summer or the off season for onion self-sufficiency, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said on Tuesday. During the peak onion season, the country cultivates enough onions, but due to lack of storage technology, many onions get rotten, the minister said at the Aman paddy harvesting festival and Liberation War memorial centre inauguration in Damurhuda upazila of Chuadanga. “For this, we have to import onions to meet the demand,” he added. The Agriculture Ministry is implementing a roadmap to reduce onion import dependency. And the production of onion has increased by 10 lakh tonnes in the last two years, said Razzaque. Read more: Bangladesh to export onions in 2-3 years: Agricultural Minister “We also focus on off season or summer onion cultivation. It has many possibilities.” Self-sufficiency can be achieved through summer onion cultivation, said the minister. He also said farmers are being provided all the support including seeds, fertilisers and technology in this regard. Besides, the country has enough food in stock. There will be no crisis of food in Bangladesh, and no famine if no major natural disaster occurs, he said, expecting bumper yield of Aman paddy in the upcoming season. Read more: Instability in onion price as import declines through Hili land port “The current government is working tirelessly to make agriculture profitable. Instead of cultivating only paddy and jute, high value crops and fruits should be cultivated, only then agriculture will be profitable.” Regarding imports of agricultural machinery, Razzaque said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is working on agricultural mechanisation. The implementation of the project of Tk 3000 crore is underway.” He also urged the country’s industrialists to come forward and invest in producing agricultural machinery. “Then import dependency on agricultural machinery will be reduced,” he added.
The government has withdrawn import duty on onion and reduced that on sugar by 10 per cent in a bid to stabilise the prices of the two essential items. The Internal Resources Division (IRD) under the Ministry of Finance issued two separate gazettes in this regard on Thursday evening. While the customs duty on onion import was withdrawn, the regulatory duty on sugar import was cut down to 20 per cent from 30 per cent. Read: Proposal for duty withdrawal on onion import to be considered: FnM The decision came as the prices of the daily essentials kept soaring in the local market.
India's decision to lift a ban on onion exports from January 1 may have provided some relief to Bangladeshi consumers but has led to a wave of anger among importers.
India withdrew its ban on onion export on Monday, nearly three and a half months after imposing it abruptly which sent the commodity's price through the roof in Bangladesh. Bangladesh will resume onion import through Dinajpur’s Hili land port on January 1 next, officials here said. The decision was announced through a notification from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.