Two days ago, Nishad Hossain bought three kilograms of onion at Tk180. Learning about the Indian export ban, he dropped by Karwan Bazar wholesale kitchen market on Monday to buy more onions. Nishad had to pay nearly double the previous price for onion per kg.
"I went to six shops to know the actual price. Some are demanding Tk100 for Indian onion per kg while others are demanding Tk110 to Tk120," Nishad complained.
Like him, many customers claimed the traders were charging them more for onion while the retailers defended themselves as expected saying they had to buy at a higher price.
"We have been buying both local and Indian onions at a higher price since Sunday night which is causing the price abnormality," Karwan Bazar onion trader Mahbub Alam Kawran claimed.
Prices are likely to surge further once the Indian onion stock runs out, hinted Karwan Bazar's traders.
Hike in both retail and wholesale onion prices is making Bangladesh cry. Indian onion prices rose to Tk100 from Tk60 per kg overnight as the country put an export ban on Sunday. Simultaneously, the price of locally grown onion soared by Tk30 per kg, making it Tk100 from Tk70.
The local markets barely make any difference between local and imported onions while charging the customers.
Hamidullah Bazar is Chattogram's largest onion wholesale market. Mohammad Idris, general secretary of the Market Onion Traders Union, said onion price hike also hit the Bazar.
The wholesale price of Burmese onion per kg, at the Bazar, was found Tk80 on Monday. Indian onion was being sold at Tk80 to Tk90 there.
The retail price of locally grown onion was Tk115, Indian Tk110, and Burmese Tk105.
Traders said they had nearly 300-350 tonnes of onion in stocks.
Meanwhile, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) Spokesperson Humayun Kabir claimed Bangladeshi traders have plenty stocks of both Indian and locally grown onions.
"But they are now selling onion at a higher price just one day after India's export ban to make quick money. To prevent the hoarding practice, the law enforcers and a market monitoring cell are working," Humayun added.
3,500 tonnes of onion imported in 3 days
Bangladesh has imported 3,500 tonnes of onion from Myanmar alone in the last three days. Although the traders could not specify when the market will be stable, they said imports from Myanmar, Turkey, and Egypt will help normalize the market.
Importers said they have been importing 300 to 350 tonnes of onion daily via Teknaf land port since the last couple of days. If this continues, the market soon will calm down, they hope.
Onion importer of Khatunganj wholesale market Mohammad Absar Ali said onion import from Myanmar through the Teknaf port will normalize the market.
In the meantime, 250-tonne onion from Egypt and Turkey have reached the Chattogram port in last two days. Two ships brought the consignments in 13 containers.
Apart from this, Chattogram Customs House officials said a Dhaka based company has brought 140 tonnes of onion from Myanmar through the seaport.
Director (traffic) of the Chittagong Port Authority Enamul Karim said there is no possibility of onion-laden vessels arriving at the port in the next one week.
TCB's truck sale on at 35 points in the capital
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) is selling onion at 35 spots of Dhaka at Tk 45 per kilogram.
On Monday morning, people were seen standing in long queues to buy onions from the TCB trucks at Khamar Bari area. The sale began at 9:00am.
"Each truck sells 400 kg-1000 Kg of onion per day. As onion demand was high, all of our truck gets empty by 1.00 pm", said a TCB spokesperson.
Super shops likely to charge extra from Tuesday
Visiting two superstores Agora and Meena Bazar outlets in the capital, it was found that they were selling onion at the previous price.
Agora was selling Indian onions at Tk 77 and locally grown onions at Tk 86. They are offering 5 kilograms of Indian onion at Tk 400 and locally grown onion at Tk 450.
However, a marketing officer of Agora seeking anonymity said onion price may go up at their outlets from Tuesday.
Onions price in Meena Bazar was also less than the Karwan Bazar. They were selling locally grown onion at Tk 95 per kg and imported Indian onion at Tk 86.
The Indian media reported on Sunday that India prohibited onion export till further orders. The decision came after the country imposed an $850 per tonne minimum export price on onions on September 13 to curb export.
Prices of onion have increased in India after floods hit productions in Maharashtra and Karnataka recently.
In Delhi and Kolkata, retail prices of onions have been Rs 60 per kilogram, which were between Rs 20 and Rs 30 a month ago, according to the local media.
Bangladesh produces 1.7 million to 1.9 million tonnes of onion annually and imports 700,000 tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes to meet the domestic demand. The importers bring onion mostly from India as the transport cost is low due to the proximity.