Import from alternative sources on the rise
Onion imports from countries other than India are on the rise as prices of the kitchen staple are higher when brought in from the neighbouring nation.
The price of Indian onions has increased by 83 per cent at wholesale markets in Chattogram in just over a month.
Indian onions sold at Tk 55 per kilogramme (kg) at wholesale yesterday while it was Tk 30 in mid-August.
Some 7,500 tonnes of onion from Myanmar entered Bangladesh through Teknaf land port while 496 tonnes have arrived through Chattogram port from Egypt and Turkey since September 3.
At least 6,000 tonnes of this amount are waiting to be unloaded at the ports.
"Even a week ago, an average of just five to 10 trucks of onions would enter the country through Teknaf land port while the average is now about 100 to 120 trucks a day," said Abdur Nur, revenue officer of the Teknaf Land Port Custom Station.
Onion imports from Myanmar started from September 3. Before that, one or two trucks of the vegetable would come each week but at present, about 90 per cent of the total imports are from Myanmar alone, Nur told The Daily Star.
But although imports from alternative sources have risen, the import volume is still far below the country's demand, according to various traders.
The amount of imports can only increase gradually though since shipping onions from places other than India is more time consuming due to the distance involved.
During a visit to the Khatunganj wholesale market yesterday, traders were found selling Indian onions for about Tk 55 per kg while the Myanmar variety was priced between Tk 35 to Tk 40 per kg.
At retail markets in Chattogram city, the bulbs are being sold at Tk 10 to Tk 20 per kg more than the wholesale price.
Md Absar Uddin, an onion importer and owner of M/S Sonali Traders, told The Daily Star that onion production in some Indian states has declined due to heavy rain.
As a result, the price of onion in the neighbouring nation has gone up to Rs 30 per kg now while it used to be Rs 20 per kg two weeks ago.
Besides, the cost of transportation has doubled during the week-long Puja holiday.
"Now, the price of onion reaches around Tk 50 per kg by the time it arrives in Bangladesh. As a result, it is not possible to sell onions in the market at a lower price," Uddin said.
Omar Faruque, director of Ira Traders, a wholesale trader of Khatunganj, said the small amount of onion imported from sources other than India is not enough to fulfil the market demand.
"But prices will be stable when large volumes of onion arrive in a couple of weeks," he added.
According to data from the Plant Quarantine Wing at Chattogram Port, Import Permission letters for 2,150 tonnes of onion from Turkey have been received by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.