Friday, June 5, 2020 | ePaper

Stringent measures needed to bring onion prices at tolerable level

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THOUGH the prices of onion decreased slightly in the last week following adequate supply in markets, consistent open market sale (OMS) and monitoring by the government, it's again showing upward trend due to syndicated activities of some unscrupulous traders. The business syndicates defying government's monitoring allegedly playing tricks to make volatile the onion market again. The situation has reached to such an extent that the authorities concerned have to conduct mobile courts almost every day in different parts of the country to keep the onion prices in a tolerable level. Prices of the onion had soared in Bangladesh after neighbouring India imposed ban on the export of essential kitchen item.  
Onion is a very necessary item in our daily household cooking, but due to price fluctuation the consumers of limited-income group are facing severe trouble.  In the capital, onion was sold at Tk 75-80 per kg last week. But within a span of seven days its prices shoot up to Tk 110-120. Assuring that supply was adequate, Commerce Minister recently said the prices of onions would drop within the next few days. The same was told by different traders as onion was being imported from different countries, including, Myanmar, Egypt, Pakistan and China.  Meanwhile, some of the consignments of onion imported from Myanmar were found sub-standard and rotten.  
According to information available, Bangladesh imported 10.91 lakh tonnes of onion in fiscal 2018-19, up from 9.53 lakh tonnes a year ago. Besides, the local production stood at 17.38 lakh tonnes in 2017-18. What's more frustrating is that the farmers usually don't get actual price of the item.  As it's a perishable good, the farmers sell the whole production after a few days of harvesting. They even cannot stock the surplus onion due to lack of cold storages.
It's very difficult for us to understand how the price of any item shoots up overnight if its export is banned by the country of origin. It's simply a made-made disorder. The government must take stringent measures against such activities of business syndicates. We see, mobile courts of different agencies are conducting g drives at wholesale markets. But its impact in retail market is negligible. It's necessary to take coordinated steps to arrest the onion prices.

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