Onion prices in the Khatunganj wholesale market fell by Tk7-10 per kg over the last week as supply surpassed demand, traders said.
Three onion varieties – local, Indian, and Dutch – are now available at Khatunganj.
Selim Uddin, commission agent of onion, garlic, and ginger at Khatunganj and proprietor of Shah Musa Traders, said prices at the kitchen market depend entirely on imports and supplies.
He said India, one of Bangladesh's major onion import sources, had seen a drop in onion booking prices due to the new season's harvest, causing the import and supply of the cooking component to increase in the domestic market.
"Besides, there has been ample supply of domestic onion in the market in the last one and a half months. As a result, prices have been declining. Prices fell further in the last one week due to the increase in supply," explained Selim.
Another trader Md Ali Azam said supply had exceeded demand as India had resumed onion exports and also because of the domestic onion season.
He said local traders had been easily importing onions from alternative countries over the last few years as India had suddenly stopped onion exports.
Local farmers also increased onion production due to the crisis, which kept the onion market stable in the last few months, Azam said.
"Prices may go down further in a few days if the Indian Sukh Sagar variety becomes available in the market."
Chattogram port's plant quarantine station data show 1.47 lakh tonnes of onion arrived from 11 countries through the port till 31 January since India's export ban had been announced. The consignments helped meet the demand during the crisis.
The countries shipments came from include China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Malaysia. The highest volume came from Pakistan and Egypt.
Md Idrich, general secretary of Hamid Ullah Market Kitchen Item Traders Association at Khatunganj, said the market had been turbulent in the last five months as India had stopped exporting onions.
"During this period, apart from regular traders, many seasonal ones imported onion. Some of them made profits, but the majority incurred big losses," he added.
Mahbubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said onion prices reach the lowest point during the domestic season almost every year.
"India resumed onion exports, which had been closed for a long time, after the domestic onion season had begun. Imports also increased due to low booking prices in the Indian market. As a result, prices are falling like every year but local farmers will suffer losses," he said.
According to the Department of Agricultural Extension and the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the country's annual demand for onion is about 22-23 lakh tonnes. 17.38 lakh tonnes of onion was produced in the fiscal year 2017-18. In the last financial year, production was about 19 lakh tonnes.
But if 25% waste is excluded as post-harvest waste, the amount of usable onion stands at about 15 lakh tonnes. Moreover, about 2% of the planted onion is reserved for next year's seeds. Thus about 9-10 lakh tonnes of onion needs to be imported every year.
But 5% of the imported onion is also wasted at the supply and marketing stages.