Blame game continues over unstable onion market

Shafiqul Islam
Published : 02:00, Nov 11, 2019 | Updated : 02:00, Nov 11, 2019

OnionThe onion is market is unstable with prices spiraling out of control despite the government’s many attempts to check prices. As of Friday (Nov 7), the kitchen staple sold for Tk 160 per kilogram.
Amid the soaring prices, retail traders are blaming wholesalers who in turn hold importers responsible for the crisis.
Commerce ministry sources said that even though a couple of private firms were supposed to import onions, the consignments are yet to reach.
On the other hand Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Friday that prices were unlikely to drop below Tk 100 per kilogram before the end of November.
Slamming the minister, a private bank employee Harun-ur-Rashid said that the minister’s comments were likely to create more uncertainties and instabilities in the market.
“When the minister himself says that onion prices won’t go down below Tk 100 per kilo, then why would traders reduce prices?” he told Bangla Tribune.
“It’s their job to keep the market in check. If they can’t do it, they should refrain from making comments,” he added.
Meanwhile, retail seller Altaf Hossain says that they sell onions at little profit from the buying price.
“We don’t understand syndicates, neither are we involved with it. Retail sellers are not involved with this,” he said.
Mobarak Hossain, a trader at the Syam Bazar wholesale market says that they make profits of Tk 2-5 per kilogram.
“We aren’t involved with any syndicates. Importers sell per tonne of onion at a specific price and we have to make the purchase at that price,” he said.
Importer Haji Mohammad Majed says that they are not to be blamed for the soaring prices given that the traders at the exporting country decide prices.
The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), on the other hand hold both the government and the traders responsible.
“One hand is the government’s failure, on the other is the traders’ greed for profit,” said CAB General Secretary Humayun Kabir.
He added that had the government taken steps from the very beginning, anarchy wouldn’t have descended into the market.
Prices of the kitchen soared after India banned exports on Sept 29, to check spiralling prices there due to floods in parts of major growing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Although, the neighbouring country did permit conditional and limited export last week, it had little effect on the Bangladeshi market where prices still remain high.
Responding to queries on the matter, Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin said that onions exported by Meghna, City and S Alam groups are supposed to reach within the next few days.
“In the end of November, locally grown onion will hit the market. Before that onion will start growing in India,” he said.
He added that prices would most likely drop after India lifts ban on export following increasing supplies there.