The release of onion consignments – waiting to enter Bangladesh through the Benaople land port – remains uncertain with no response from the Indian authorities as yet.
More than 100 onion-laden trucks have got stranded at the Petrapol land port area in India amid the Indian government's ongoing ban on the essential cooking ingredient.
Businessmen fear if these trucks are not released soon, they will have to count big losses again.
Bangladeshi importers have repeatedly requested the Indian commerce ministry via Indian exporters to release onions imported on letters of credit before the export ban. But they have not got any response yet.
Mohsin Milon, president of Benapole Exporter-Importer Association, said, "We appealed to the Indian authorities to release onion consignments stranded at Petrapole land port, but they have not responded yet."
Rafiqul Islam, an onion importer, told The Business Standard, "Onions in many trucks have begun to rot. These trucks had arrived at Petrapole landport before the imposition of the export ban. If the trucks are not allowed to enter Bangladesh soon, we will incur losses again," he said.
Meanwhile, onion prices have gone in local market owing to a crisis of this cooking ingredient. Onion is selling at Tk60-65 per kg in the wholesale market and at Tk75-80 in the retail market.
Traders claim that onion prices have shot up as half of the stranded consignments that entered Bangladesh have rotted.
Sheikh Mahabub, an onion importer from Benapole, said, "Every year we face the same crisis concerning onions. India forces us to halt imports, showing production crisis. Sometimes they hike the price three times more than that in normal times."
He urged the government to further strengthen trade relations with other countries, alongside India.
Ashish Das, a grocer from Boro Bazar area, said, "Imports of Indian onions are low. And half of those onions are rotten. As a result, the price of onions is not coming down in the market. The market is likely to remain volatile until imports from abroad return to normal."
Benapole Port Deputy Director (Traffic) Mamun Kabir Tarafdar said, "India had stopped exporting onions to Bangladesh from September 14 without any prior announcement. So far, no onion truck has been released by the Indian authorities. We are not sure whether they would release them or not."
However, imports and exports of other products between Benapole and Petrapole ports remain normal.
From September 14 to 25, 2,544 trucks of various goods were imported from India. But there was no onion truck among them. At the same time, 1026 trucks of Bangladeshi products have been exported to India. Among those, 67 trucks were full of Hilsha fishes.