Onion prices have gone beyond the general people’s reach as per kg of the cooking ingredient was selling for Tk 150 at kitchen markets in the capital on Thursday, despite government’s measures to pull the reins.
Both Indian and local onions were sold at Tk 20 to 30 a kg between January and May.
Many people alleged that the prices are soaring as the wholesalers jacked up the prices despite having no shortage of onion supply due to recent imports of the ingredient.
Multiple traders and consumer association leaders told The Daily Star that the imported onion cannot help bring back normalcy in the market as the import cost except from India is very expensive.
Saying that there is no immediate remedy for the crisis, they suggested the government and stakeholders take a long-term initiative to bring stability in the market in future.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Ghulam Rahman said there is no quick fix to this problem within a week.
“I don’t think there is a quick fix that can cut prices within a week. We should look for a long-term solution,” he said.
Rahman said the onion prices have not increased for the first time this year. The prices rose many times in the past due to the absence of proper and long-term strategies, he added.
He said to maintain a long-term stability in the market, dependency on import will have to be reduced by increasing the domestic production of onion. But the country at present has to import a large quantity from India and other countries to meet the demand for domestic consumption.
Rahman suggested that the domestic production can be increased in two ways -- increasing acreage by ensuring a fair price of farmers and mounting yield. An initiative needs to be taken to increase productivity by providing the farmers with high-yielding onion seeds, fertilizers, and loans.
“One more thing needs to be done. The onion prices in India are very low in its peak season because of the high productivity. As there is no duty on onion import, it can be imported from India at a lower price during that time,” he said.
And, import duty will have to be imposed during the peak season in Bangladesh so that the county’s farmers get a fair price of their onions.
Again, the import tariff has to be withdrawn at the end of the season so the traders can import the variety at low costs to bring stability in the market, he explained.
The government should take an initiative to increase the preservation period of onion, the CAB chief said.
If it can be preserved for a longer period, the onion production can be increased. As a result, onion market will remain stable throughout the year, he added.