Garlic, ginger and onion prices soared in the capital throughout last week as traders fear that China may not resume business operations after its Lunar New Year break is over.
Bangladesh imports these spices from different countries, including China which is a major source of garlic and ginger. But the country is struggling to cope with its coronavirus outbreak.
Retail prices of each kg of imported garlic rose by Tk 80, ginger by Tk 30 and onion by Tk 10-20 within a week at kitchen markets and grocery stores in the capital’s Karwan Bazar, Moghbazar and Farmgate.
At retail shops, Chinese garlic was sold for between Tk 200 and 220 a kg, depending on the quality. It was between Tk 120 and 140 about a week ago.
Wholesale price of garlic rose to around Tk 190, from about Tk 120.
A kg of Chinese ginger sold for about Tk 150, up from about Tk 120. The prices of almost every variety of onion have increased by Tk 10-20.
“This hike is too much,” said Zobayer Ahmed, a private employee, who was shopping in Karwan Bazar yesterday.
“It is a big burden for us,” he added.
Some sellers alleged that traders were taking advantage of the uncertainty that looms over export and import operations in China.
“We have nothing to do because we depend on the wholesalers and importers,” said Ainul Haque, a retailer in Karwan Bazar.
Wholesaler Muhammad Shaheen of the same market alleged the importers created an artificial shortage of the goods by forming a cartel.
“They did it to make some extra profit,” he added.
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday said the government would control the prices by finding new sources of the goods.
“Use of garlic and ginger is limited. However, if the situation of China doesn’t improve soon and the prices keep rising, we will find an alternative source,” he told reporters at his office.
About onion price, he said, “China is meeting only 10 to 15 percent of our onion demands.”
According to government data, the country produces around 4.5 lakh tonnes of garlic every year against a demand for 6 lakh tonnes. The rest is imported mostly from China.