Published: December 9, 2023, 08:46 PM
Onion prices jumped to over Tk 200 per kg in Dhaka and other parts of the country on Saturday, after Indian authorities announced an extension to the export ban already in place on the condiment essential to South Asian cuisine till March 2024.
The onion is retailing at Tk200-220 and more in and outside Dhaka on Saturday, compared with Tk 130 on Thursday, which is a shocking development for consumers reeling under the higher cost of living.
India extended the ban until March 2024, three weeks before the ban announced earlier was set to expire on December 31.
Although banning onion export by India is not new, wholesalers and retailers in Bangladesh are blaming India`s ban extension for the sudden price hike, the market analysts said.
They said that the ban has already been in place and it has just been extended and that`s long before the current phase expires. But a group of market players, or syndicates, worked behind the sudden price hike.
Retailers were selling the local variety of onion at Tk 204 per kg at Karwan Bazar today, compared with Tk 130 per kg on Thursday. Prices of Indian onion rose to Tk 110 from Tk 70 per kg.
A week ago, the price of the local variety of onion was Tk 105 to Tk 125 per kg and it has increased to Tk 180 to Tk 190 today, according to the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB). The price of imported onions has surged to Tk 160-170 from Tk 90-110.
Mohammad Abdul Mazed, general secretary of the Shyambazar Onion Wholesalers Association, said India`s export ban had a big impact on the country`s market. Unseasonal rain over the past few days also affected the prices.
The price has rocketed not just in Dhaka but also in other parts of the country. For example, each kg of onion was sold at Tk 180 to Tk 200 this morning in Pabna.
Visiting Chattogram Khatunganj, one of the largest wholesale markets in the country, UNB’s Chattogram Correspondent found that per Kg of onion with mixture of Indian and local varieties was selling at Tk 170 to 180 in wholesale markets there.
On the other hand, the same quantity of onion charges at Tk 200 to 210 in the retail markets.
Even some wholesale shops of Khatunganj, the country`s commodities hub, were hanging placards reading ‘no onion available’ right now.
Local retailers alleged that businessmen hiked the price of onion taking the advantage of export ban by India.
Retail grocer Shahjahan of Kazir Dewri told UNB that, “They had been selling per Kg onion at Tk 110 for the last few days but today morning noticed people were crowding to buy onion after hearing the news of export ban by India.”
“Later, we came to know that a scarcity of onions was prevailing at the Khatunganj,” he said.
The retailer thinks that an organized racket of importers and businessmen was behind the abnormal price hike, and that they are intentionally doing this to make the local market unstable.