Onion price: No quick fix to bring normalcy; need long-term plan
Onion prices went beyond the capacity of general people as the prices of the essential cooking ingredient have already broken the previous records.
The prices of the variety climbed at Tk 150 per kg at kitchen markets in Dhaka on Thursday despite government's measures to pull the reins.
Both Indian and local onions were sold at Tk 20-30 per kg between January and May of this year.
Many people alleged that the prices are soaring as the wholesalers jacked up the price despite having no shortage of onion supply due to recent import 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.
Stating that there is no immediate remedy for the crisis, they suggested the government and stakeholders take long-term initiative to bring stability in the market.
President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh 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 prices of onion 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 strategy, he added.
He said to maintain 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 to the farmers and mounting yield. An initiative needs to be taken to increase productivity through providing high-yielding onion seeds, fertilizers and loans to the farmers.
"One more thing needs to be done. The prices of onion in India are very low in the 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," Rahman said.
And, import duty will have to be imposed during 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 Again, the import tariff has to be withdrawn at the end of the season so the traders can import the variety at low cost to bring stability in the market, he explained.
Besides, as the onion is deciduous crop, so the government should take an initiative to enlarge its preservation adopting any of the modern process, Rahman said.
If the onion preservation can be enlarged and modernised, the production and productivity of onion can be increased as a result of which onion market will be stable throughout the year, he summarised.