The Financial Express

Onion import yet to cool local market

TCB keen to buy air freight of the spice

| Updated: November 22, 2019 17:14:46

File Photo (FOcus Bangla) File Photo (FOcus Bangla)

The prices of onion remained almost unchanged at their previous high level on Thursday despite arrival of imported consignments in the market, according to traders and consumers.

Visits to some kitchen markets in the city revealed that onion of local varieties was still selling at Tk 170-180 a kg on the day.

Imported onion of Burmese-Egyptian and Chinese varieties was selling at Tk 140-150 a kg and Tk 100-120 a kg respectively at retail level.

Onion of local varieties was sold at Tk 180-190 a kg, while imported ones at Tk 120-150 a kg on Wednesday. Local onion was sold at Tk 200-220 a kg, while imported ones at Tk 140-160 a kg on Tuesday.

Visiting Shyambazar wholesale market in the city on Thursday the FE correspondent found that onion of local varieties was being sold at Tk 150-170 a kg, depending on their quality and varieties, and onion imported from Egypt, China and Myanmar at Tk 100-140 a kg.

"We hope the prices of onion will come down soon," Md Atiur Rahman of 'Popular Banijjalaya' at Shyambazar told the FE.

Onion of local varieties was sold at Tk 150-180 a kg, whereas that of imported varieties at Tk 100-150 a kg on Wednesday.

Local onion was sold at Tk 190-200 a kg, and imported varieties at Tk 130-160 a kg in the same market on Tuesday.

Onion was traded at around Tk 250 a kg, depending on variety and quality, at retail level a few days ago due to its supply crunch.

Meanwhile, a consignment of 81 tonnes of onion reached the country from Pakistan on Wednesday night. But it is yet to be sold until Thursday evening, according to the traders.

Md Mamun, a retailer at Kaptan Bazar, told the FE correspondent on Thursday afternoon that he went to 'Pobitro Bhandar' in Shyambazar wholesale market for buying the onion imported from Pakistan, but could not purchase.

"Salesmen of the wholesale shop did not sell onion to us. They informed us that they will sell the spice later on," he added.

When contacted, Md Kazal, manager of 'Pobitro Bhandar', told the FE that the onion importer is now in discussion with the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

The state-run trading entity expressed interest to purchase the essential spice for selling it to consumers through open market sale (OMS).

Another retailer at Kaptanbazar, preferring anonymity, alleged that salesmen of 'Pobitro Bhandar' demanded Tk 170 from him for each kg of onion on Thursday morning.

He also said many other traders like him did not purchase the imported onion due to its high price.

Meanwhile, S Alam Group, one of the country's leading business conglomerates, said it will continue importing onion until price of the spice in local market becomes stable, according to a press statement.

The group has, so far, opened letters of credit (L/Cs) for importing a total of 60,250 tonnes of onion through sea and air routes.

A consignment of 105 tonnes of onion was expected to arrive at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) on Thursday night through Bismillah Air Lines. More 55 tonnes will be brought from Egypt by Cairo Air today (Friday).

The TCB started intensifying its onion selling operation at a subsidised price of Tk 45 a kg at different points across the country, considering consumers' interest. The organisation is selling onion, imported by S Alam Group.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC), which oversees overall activities of the TCB, in a statement on Thursday said the state trading arm is selling the spice at 50 points of the capital as well as division and district levels.

However, customers have vented utter frustration, as prices of the spice still remain high, forcing them to pay extra money.

"We're disappointed, as onion prices are still high," Md Tajul, a private sector service-holder, told the FE in Jatrabari kitchen market on Thursday.

The prices of the spice soared abnormally following an export ban by the neighbouring India, imposed on September 29, as well as the recent cyclone 'Bulbul' that damaged onion fields in many areas across the country.

After the price hike, the government and the private sector traders took initiatives for importing onion from Egypt, Turkey, China and Myanmar for fulfilling local demand.

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