The first consignment of onions imported by sea has been released by Chattogram port, upon its arrival from Myanmar, following India's ban on the export of the key cooking staple.
The importer of the Burmese onions released the 54-tonne consignment Tuesday from Chattogram port. Meanwhile, four containers with 116 tonnes of Pakistani onions are awaiting release at the port, and the traders said prices of the bulb would drop once the imports normalise the supply.
The Burmese consignment is the first of onions to be imported by sea this September, said Dr Mohammad Asaduzzaman, deputy director of Chittagong port's Plant Quarantine Centre.
Additionally, Green Trade on Tuesday obtained the release documents for the Pakistani onions.
An assistant revenue officer of the Chattogram Customs House said they received the bill of entry for two containers of Burmese onions on September 26. After taxation, the importer released the onions from the port.
Md Sajjad Hussain, the proprietor of C&F Agent S Hossain and Co, said the Pakistani onions reached the port three days ago and they are preparing to submit the bill of entry at the customs house Tuesday.
Mohammad Idris, Traders Association general secretary of Khatunganj's Hamidullah Market, one container of Burmese onions has arrived at the market. Those onions are being sold at Tk70 per kilogramme in wholesale.
Idris said the prices will fall further if imports by sea increase.
According to the Plant Quarantine Centre, 70 business entities have taken approval for onion imports by sea from September 3 to September 27.
They will import more than 1.45 lakh tonnes of the cooking essential from: China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Ukraine, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.
On September 14, neighbouring India slapped a ban on onion exports to curb the rising price of the cooking ingredient on its market.
Onion prices in Bangladesh had been rising for more than two weeks prior to the ban, and India's export restrictions further fueled the rocketing prices.
Prices of the cooking staple shot up to Tk120 per kilogramme following India's export ban. Subsequently, the government initiated numerous measures, including a 5% import duty waiver and allowing onion imports on credit for 90 days, to reign in the soaring market.
In the meantime, importers also started exploring alternative markets to India. Around a week ago, news broke that nearly six lakh tonnes of onions will arrive by sea in the next two months from at least seven countries.