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Onion Market: Now wholesalers on a slippery slope

18 Nov 2019, 23:11 | updated: 18 Nov 2019, 23:17


Amid the steady fall in its price, wholesalers as well as retailers now refrain from buying onion fearing a further price fall as the locally-grown variety along with the imported ones started hitting the market.

The price of onion, a common ingredient in Bangladeshi kitchens, started soaring in the country after India banned its export on September 29 last. 

It kept surging despite various steps taken by the government, including conducting mobile court drives against traders who were selling onion at higher price as well as the sale of the cooking ingredient by the state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) at a cheaper price.

The Commerce Ministry on October 28 said the market would cool down after the arrival of onion consignments from Egypt and Turkey but there was no sign of any fall in the price.

The price reached as high as Tk 260 per kg in the retail market on Saturday before marking a fall on Sunday.

Wholesalers at Karwanbazar, Shyambazar and Kaptan Bazar sold onion at Tk 220-230 per kg on November 15 while retailers at the city’s kitchen markets were selling onion for upto Tk 260. 

The onion price remained unchanged in the wholesale markets on November 16 after the government on November 15 said onions were being flown in from Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan and the UAE on an emergency basis at the initiative of the Commerce Ministry to keep the local market stable.

The onion price started falling on Sunday after the Prime Minister on Saturday said the government took initiatives to import onion through cargo planes to bring down the price and the local variety started arriving in the market. 

Visiting Karwanbazar, Shyambazar and Kaptan Bazar, it was seen that the onion price fell by Tk 20 further on Monday. 

Wholesale traders were selling onion at Tk 170-190 a kg as the presence of buyers was very thin.

Most of the traders were seen passing idle time while several others sleeping for lack of buyers.
Nazrul Islam, a wholesaler at Karwanbazar, said retailers are not buying onion fearing further fall in the price. “I bought 24 sacks of onion on November 15 for Tk 230 per kg but I didn’t buy onion in the last two days fearing further slump in the price,” he said, adding that eight sacks of onion remained still unsold as no onion was sold from his shop on Monday.

Another wholesaler at Karwanbazar, Mansur Ali, said though the price of onion slumped to Tk 180 a kg, he could not sell any onion on Monday as buyers were reluctant to buy it fearing a further price fall.

Manik Saha, a stockist at Shyambazar, told UNB that they sold onion at Tk 10 to upto Tk 190 in the market on Monday. “We’re selling rotten onion at Tk 10-60 while half-rotten one at Tk 100-120, better quality local variety at Tk 180-190 and the Burmese one at Tk 170,” he said.

The price declined by Tk 30-40 in the last two days due to an increase in supply and lack of buyers, he said. 

Explaining the reason behind the price fall, Manik said many people have cut the consumption of onion due to the soaring price while new onion started hitting the market. “Administrative pressure and the government’s announcement to import more onions also worked to this end.”

He said they were passing idle time as they do not get customers.

Replying to a query, the stockist said onions which were kept at the bottom of trawlers get rotten after salt got mixed with those.

Kabir Hossain, a wholesaler at the market, said the onion price was decreased by Tk 20-30 on Monday compared to Sunday. “We’re selling local variety at Tk 190 today which was Tk 220 on Saturday.”

Wishing anonymity, a wholesaler blamed the government as well as the media for the spiraling onion price. “The onion price would have never crossed Tk 100 had the government sat and discussed with the businesspeople and importers.”

Humayun Kabir, a retainer at Kaptan bazar, said the price of onion was decreasing by Tk 20-25 every day. “We hope that that onion market will be stable very soon.”