- India allows export of 25,000 tonnes of onions
- 40-45% imported onions damaged in long wait
- Onion prices fall in domestic markets
- Onion imports from Pakistan, Turkey, Myanmar to begin Oct 10
Truckloads of onions have entered Bangladesh through three land ports from India after five days of export stoppage by the latter.
Importers have claimed around 40-45% of the product have become rotten as onion-laden trucks had been waiting on the other side of the ports for several days to enter Bangladesh territory.
Meanwhile, the commerce ministry has set the condition that traders sell 25,000 tonnes of onions, likely to come from India, at a wholesale price of Tk50 per kg in Dhaka.
According to importers and port sources, 1,206 tonnes of onions entered the country in 51 trucks through Hili, Bhomra and Sona Masjid ports on Saturday. At the same time, 30 tonnes more came from Myanmar through Teknaf land port.
Through the Sona Masjid port, 160 tonnes of onions in 6 trucks have arrived in Bangladesh so far. Eight-hundred tonnes have entered the country in 32 trucks through Bhomra port. And another 246 tonnes have arrived by 11 trucks through Hili.
Harun-ur-Rashid, clearing and forwarding (C&F) agent and president of the importers and exporters group at Hili, said the price of the onions which came through the port was around Tk1.26 crore, of which onions worth about Tk50 lakh were damaged.
It is a big loss for traders, he added.
The business leader also said India had supplied only those onions tenders for which had been completed before the Indian ban was imposed.
"However, they [India] have not yet given about 10,000 tonnes more for which Bangladeshi businesses opened letters of credit (LCs) earlier."
Meanwhile, onion imports from Pakistan, Turkey, Myanmar and other countries will start from the 10th of next month, said Harun.
Once onions start coming from these countries, there will be no shortage of the item, he added.
Mostafizur Rahman Nasim, general secretary of the Bhomra C&F Agents Association, said 40-45 trucks loaded with onions were about to enter the country through the port. Apart from these, 125 more trucks were stranded in India.
He claimed 40-50% of onions imported through the Bhomra land port had rotted.
On September 14, India announced a halt to onion exports to control ensure smooth supplies of the bulb to its domestic market.
Following the announcement, hundreds of trucks carrying onions got stuck at the Indian border while prices of the cooking ingredient in Bangladesh almost doubled in only one day.
However, after a meeting in Delhi on Saturday, senior officials of the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of External Affairs instructed their customs department to release the trucks.
According to the directive, the Indian government gave special permission for the export of 25,000 tonnes of onions to Bangladesh to maintain friendly relations with the latter.
Heated domestic market cooling down
Meanwhile, onion prices have declined further in Bangladeshi markets, thanks to onion arrivals from India as well as market monitoring.
Two days ago, locally-grown onions were selling for Tk90 per kg but now the price is Tk85-90. Some sellers were seen selling the item for Tk80 per kg. Imported onions sold for Tk65-70 a kg, down from Tk70-75.
Two teams from the commerce ministry and the national consumer rights protection directorate met with wholesalers in Dhaka's Shyambazar on Saturday.
Following the discussions, the wholesale price of imported onions in Shyambazar was fixed at Tk50 per kg. However, some wholesalers in the market said the imported variety sold for Tk48-52 there.
AHM Shafiquzzaman, joint secretary at the commerce ministry, said traders had been trying to make more profit by raising onion prices on their own. Later, they agreed to sell the item at a tolerable price.
Besides, after the onions reach Dhaka from India, prices will be re-determined, he added.