Onion earlier this month, the government allowed the importation of local onion after it rose from Tk 90 to Tk 100 per kg in the retail market. Some good news started coming in the market. However, although the price of onion has come down wholesale, it has not yet affected retail. Among other staples, rice, pulses, and flour remained stable at higher prices. Soybean oil prices fell slightly but sugar prices did not.
On Thursday, various grocery stores in the capital’s New Market Bazar, Kanthal Bagan Bazar, and Moghbazar areas were visited. The retail price of local onion is 75 to 80 Tk per kg. In wholesale, this onion is around Tk 40 per kg. Several types of imported onions are available in the market.
There is also a difference in price depending on quality.
Retail prices for imported onions range from Tk 45 to Tk 65 per kilogram.
Abdul Majed, a wholesale onion trader of Shyambazar in the capital. That local onions were sold at a maximum price of Tk 35 to Tk 40 per kg yesterday. Imported onion prices are even lower. However, he did not want to comment on why the retail price is high.
Traders say that the price of onion in the market has decreased as it was expected, and the wholesale price has decreased. But the reason why it did not go down in retail was that the quality of onions that came in the first phase was not that good. Because of this, it could not influence the market. The onions that are coming now are of good quality. It will reduce the price of onions in the market. There is no possibility of a price increase before the sacrifice.
A few days ago, the price of soybean oil was reduced by Tk 10 per liter. However, the old price of soybean oil remained with many traders. They are being sold at old prices. The sugar crisis is not going away.
Hriday Hossain, the owner of the Hriday store in the capital’s Newmarket market, told Prothom Alo that the price of onion is on the way to normal in the retail market, but the price of sugar in the market is still higher than the government price despite the onion worries. He said that the price of cumin has increased slightly.
Broiler chicken is being sold at Tk 190 to Tk 200 per kg. Golden chicken is around 300 rupees. A dozen farm chicken brown eggs are 140 to 145 Tk. 730 to 770 taka of beef per kg.
And beef meat from 1 thousand to 1 thousand 100 takas. 180 to 220 Tk per kg of medium and small quality pangas and tilapia. Almost all vegetables are 40 to 70 taka per kg. Daily staples like rice, dal, and flour are still stable at high prices.
Arifa Khatun, a buyer of New Market Market, told Prothom Alo, “We do the market based on the high prices of the goods.”
Error in production data
Traders say that if the production is good in the country, 70 percent of the total demand for onion is produced. The remaining 30 percent has to be imported. However, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension, the country produces more onions than it consumes. The total output is 35 lakh tons.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), onion production is even lower. The organization says that a little more than 2.5 million tonnes of onions have been produced in the financial year 2021-22.
Meanwhile, according to the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC), the demand is around 2.5 million tonnes. The commission also says that 30 percent of onion production is wasted during storage and transportation.
An import permit or IP is required from the plant pest control branch of the Department of Agriculture Extension, an organization under the Ministry of Agriculture, to import onions. Considering the interests of the farmers, the ministry stopped the import of onions last March 15. However, the Ministry of Commerce has not imposed any restrictions on imports.
Onion prices in the country have doubled in a month due to the Ministry of Agriculture creating non-tariff barriers to imports. In the retail market of Dhaka yesterday, onions were sold at Tk 90 to Tk 100, which was Tk 45 to Tk 50 a month ago.
How much will the price of Indian onion be?
According to a report from the Tariff Commission, the wholesale price of onions in India on May 30 was $121 per ton. The price per kg is 13 rupees. Onion has a 5 percent import duty and a 5 percent regulatory duty.
Traders say that the ‘price’ (price including cost) of onion import from India may be around 20 rupees per kg. Then the price at which it will be sold is the profit.
Narayan Chandra Saha of Shyambazar said if Indian onion can be sold at the price of Tk 40 per kg in the market, even then the importers will be able to make a good profit.
Prices have also come down at the farmer level
Farmers usually store onions in the attic. The onion is sold every month to cover the family’s expenses. Again, at the end of the season, onions are sold and agricultural materials for the next season are purchased.
Homeowners and farmers say that because of this, even if the market price has increased by 100 takas, not all farmers have sold onions. But if prices fall at all due to Indian onion, there will be no incentive to plant next season.
Toufiq Hossain, a farmer of Durgapur village of Sujanagar upazila in Pabna, told Prothom Alo that the price of onion was Tk 3,200 per maund (Tk 80 per kg) yesterday, which has come down to Tk 2,600 (Tk 65 per kg) today.