The prices of onion, an essential kitchen vegetable, are expected to go down within the next two weeks with the arrival of new harvest, bringing a relief to consumers.
The onion prices have hit the roof with the consumers buying it at Tk 80 to 100 due to the recent flood and its curb on export by neighbouring India to keep stable its internal market.
According to official and private sources, onions produced during the Robi season will be enough to meet the country's demand throughout the year and the crisis will be over with the arrival of the new harvest.
The demand for onion in the country is around 22-24 lakh metric tonnes a year, while 18.66 lakh metric tonnes were produced last year, 1.31 lakh more than the previous year. Besides, 10.41 lakh metric tonnes were imported.
Onion prices started soaring after floods hit the country's northern region in August. Its price shot up further at the end of September and mid-October. "This is the time when onion prices remain high every year," said an official wishing not to be named.
The price hike of onion in neighbouring India, a major source of country's onion, due to crop loss in heavy rains also had an impact on price spiral of onion in Bangladesh.
Sultan, an onion farmer from Rajshahi's Ishwardi upazila, told UNB that the production this year was healthy, which will be enough to cover their losses over the last two years.
He said this year the cost of producing a kilogram of onion ranged between from Tk 20 to 22, which they could sell to local wholesalers at Tk 60 per kg, even up to Tk 65 if they could sell it to the wholesalers in Dhaka directly.
In the last two weeks, he said, they will be able to sell more of their stock, which will enable them to sell it in between Tk 45-55, allowing its retail price to decrease gradually.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, onions are produced in almost all the districts of the country, but commercially more so in Pabna, Faridpur, Kushtia and Rajshahi.
Faruk, an employee at Janata Agency in Dhaka's Shyam Bazar, said local onions are selling at wholesale at between Tk 65 and Tk 75 per kg, while its Indian variety at between Tk 55 and 65.
In retail markets, however, the local onions are selling at Tk 90-95 per kg, while the Indian kind at Tk 80-85.
Retail traders are claiming that as the new stock of onions have still not hit the market, the prices remain high.
Golam Rahman, president of Consumers' Association of Bangladesh, said a group of unscrupulous traders may be behind the astronomical price of onions, as there is no logic for its price despite adequate supply.
But, he said, the price is affected due to similar conditions in India.
He said this scenario will continue until and unless the government keeps track of actual production figures and ensures strict monitoring of pricing at wholesale and retail level.
Golam Rahman was hopeful that the prices of onions will go down very soon.