Monday, October 21, 2019 | ePaper
Onion market turns hot
Import from Egypt, China, Myanmar soon: TCB's truck sale begins to cool down market
Al Amin :
Customers crowd around a truck to buy onions in front of Bangladesh Secretariat on Tuesday as the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) started selling the onion at Tk 45 a Kg in an effort to offset its spiralling prices in the market.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) started selling onions from Tuesday in an effort to offset the spiraling prices of the cooking ingredient in the market triggered by India's decision to curb exports.
The commodity was sold on trucks at Tk 45 per kilogram (kg) in five points in the capital, including the National Press Club, Motijheel's Balaka Chattar and Khamarbari.
However, the retail prices of onion soared overnight to Tk 70- Tk 80 per kg in city's kitchen markets, according to traders.
Asserting that the onion price will come down soon, the newly appointed Commerce Secretary, Dr Md Jafar Uddin, urged the people not to be panicked over the price hike.
"As part of instant measure, the TCB has already started truck sales to intervene in the market," the commerce secretary told reporters after a meeting with stakeholders at the ministry yesterday.
He also said, among other government measures, the margin for letters of credit (LC) will be lowered, onion importers will be given loans at lower bank interest rate and the consignments of onions waiting for release at the ports for long will be released on an urgent basis.
"Initiative has been taken to import onion from Egypt, China and Myanmar to bring down the onion prices," said Dr Jafar Uddin.
He also said that his ministry has asked the Bangladesh Bank to take steps to lower LC margin and cut interest rate on bank lending for onion importers. The port authorities have been asked to ensure quick release of imported onions.
Â "So, nothing to worry about the prices as the market will cool down soon with the arrival of imported consignments," he said.
The commerce secretary also said, "Some government agencies have already started to monitor the markets and supply will be increased gradually by reducing gap between wholesale and retail markets."
"Hopefully, the price will be stable after today's (Tuesday) meeting. Just wait and see,"Â the commerce secretary said.
About 10 to 11 tonne onions are being imported to meet our demands, Shah Mohammad Abu Raihan Alberuni, a member of the Tariff Commission, said.
"LCs of 12 lakh tonnes have already been disposed and over 40,000 tonnes are in the pipeline, while our storage is at satisfactory level. So, hopefully, the price will be stable very soon," he said.
Onion prices surged overnight after traders hiked rates in the wake of restriction imposed by India.
The Indian authorities slapped $850 (Tk71,821) as minimum export price per tonne of onion on September 13, a move that made onion market highly volatile here as Bangladesh meets a portion of its annual demand through imports from India due to inadequate domestic production.
On Monday, some retailers at Mohammadpur Town Hall kitchen market asked for as high as Tk 80 for one kg of locally grown onion.
This locally grown kitchen ingredient was sold at Tk 60 per kg in the market on Friday, while imported onions at Tk 50 per kg.
"Onion market went wild since last night. Prices have gone up and customers are inquiring about prices only to avoid buying for now," said MA Hossain, owner of Allar Dan Vandar, an onion store at Mohammadpur Krishi Market, a wholesaling hub in the capital.
Mohammad Abdul Mazed, general secretary of Shyambazar Onion Wholesalers Association, said domestic production can meet demand for 7-8 months and 7-8 lakh tonnes of onions need to be imported every year.