The government is going to ease the import of onion to help enhance its supply, in the wake of recent surge in the prices of the key spice in the domestic market, said officials.
The decision came as prices of onion shot up by Tk 15-20 a kg just in a week in the country despite the fact that harvest of the crop just ended in Mid-May.
Local onion was sold at Tk 55-65 a kg on Wednesday while imported ones at Tk 50-60 a kg.
The state-run trading corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) recorded 34-42 per cent hike in onion prices in a week while 38-69 per cent in a month.
Supply of imported onions was very low in the market amid the government’s unofficial restriction on issuing ‘import permit'(IP) since the beginning of seasonal onion harvest in the country in February, said traders.
A commerce ministry senior official told the FE that importers would now get IP if they apply for.
He said the government’s top priority was to stabilise the essential market during this pandemic.
He said the harvest had ended as well as primary trading of onion by farmers has also been completed in the county.
“So, we are easing import for now to minimise any kind of shortage,” he said.
Shyambazar-based trader Narayan Chandra Saha told the FE that onion was sold at Tk 50-52 a kg in the wholesale market.
He said the price rose amid low supply of imported onion as well as stockpiling by many traders and big farmers.
He said import cost of Indian onion would now be below Tk 25 if traders get permission to import.
However, experts suggested that wholesale outlets in greater Faridpur, Pabna and Dhaka should be brought under strict monitoring to keep the market normal.
Apart from mounting market monitoring, import from various countries should also be easier, they opined.
A senior official of the commerce ministry said the price of onion would cool down soon as the market monitoring had been intensified significantly.
Bangladesh this yearis expecting 2.9-million tonnes of onion output, which is more than its demand for 2.6-million tonnes, according to agriculture ministry.
Onion production was an all-time high of 2.0-million tonnes last year.
The rest of the demand was met through imports from Egypt, Turkey, Myanmar, China, Pakistan and India.
Bangladesh has squeezed onion imports from India in recent years.
Trading sources said India’s sudden ban on export in 2019 made the onion market volatile in Bangladesh, causing price rise to the maximum Tk 290 a kg here.