Wednesday, 17 August, 2022

Soaring onion price defies analysis

The cooking ingredient gets costlier by Tk 20 a kg

Soaring onion price defies analysis

Amid skyrocketing prices of other daily essentials, now onion has got costlier by Tk 20 per kg ahead of Eid-ul-Azha despite a surplus production of the cooking ingredient, triggering public anger.

Onion is now selling at Tk 55 per kg, posting a hike by Tk 20 per kg in a couple of weeks, at the end-level consumers.

A syndicate of traders and hoarders has raised the price cashing in on Eid-ul-Azha, the 2nd largest religious festival of Muslims to be celebrated in the country on July 10, after manipulating the onion market despite the country witnessed a surplus production of the cooking ingredient.

“Importers and traders are hiking the price of onion ahead of Eid-ul-Azha. The importers have been creating artificial crisis through hoarding to put pressure on the government to lift the ban on onion import,” said Agro economist Dr Jahangir Alam Khan.

A total of 36.41 lakh tonnes of onion has been produced in the country this year which is around 2.79 lakh tonnes more than the previous year, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

Maximum 25 percent of the onion may be lost for storage round the year and if so, even more than 25 lakh tonnes of onion is available from the local production. The current demand for the essential cooking ingredient is about 35 lakh tonnes annually.

The current local stock should meet the demand of onion until September next, according to a report of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Khandakar M Rashed Iftekher, DAE additional deputy director (Field Service), said farmers cultivated onion on 2.56 lakh hectares of land this year and got a good production.

Farm economist Prof ASM Golam Hafeez told the Daily Sun that most of the locally grown onion is now in the hands of middlemen and hoarders and they are increasing the price of the bulb after creating an artificial crisis in the market.

He said onion was sold at Tk 600-1,000 per maund (40 kg) in the onion hubs of Faridpur, Padna, Rajbari, Jhenaidah, Kushtia, Meherpur and some other districts two months earlier.

But its price is now hovering around Tk 1,400 -1,500 per maund at the wholesale markets of the areas, local sources said.

Golam Hafeez said lack of proper marketing chain is responsible for the price hike of onion in the country.

The government halted the import of onion on May 6 to protect the local farmers as adequate onion was produced in the country.

But, the importers and middlemen are creating an artificial crisis and forcing the government to lift the import ban.

Despite the adequate production and stock, onion suppliers have been blamed to bag higher profits with the price hike ahead of the Eid festival.