The Financial Express

Onion prices drop further as India lifts export ban

FE REPORT | Published: February 28, 2020 10:40:01 | Updated: March 01, 2020 17:59:35

File photo (Collected) File photo (Collected)

The prices of onion have declined further in the city following the withdrawal of a ban on its exports by neighbouring India, traders said.

The Indian government decided to lift the ban on onion exports on February 26 amid a steep decline in its wholesale prices in Maharashtra, Karnataka and other states of the country.

According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), local onion was selling below Tk 100 per kilogram in Dhaka on Thursday, the first time since October last year.

However, local onion retailed at Tk 90-Tk 110 a kg in different areas of the city on the day. The prices of onion also dropped further at wholesale level on Thursday evening, traders said.

India imposed the export ban in the last week of September 2019. After imposition of the ban, onion markets became volatile in Bangladesh.

Its prices gradually rose and hit an all-time high of Tk 270 a kg in November last. The prices declined to some extent in December but never came below Tk 100 a kg.

Quoting Indian union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the Times of India reported that India's monthly onion production is expected to be 4.0 million tonnes in March which was 2.4 million tonnes during the same period of last year.

The ban on onion exports will be lifted with a notification of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade of India, the report said.

Imported onions, however, were traded at Tk 70-Tk 100 a kg in Dhaka city on Thursday, depending on their qualities.

TCB recorded an 8-10 per cent decline in onion prices in last two days.

When contacted, Narayan Chandra Saha, a Shyambazar-based importer, said onion import from India will start from March.

He expressed the hope that the prices of onion will decline significantly in Bangladesh if India doesn't set minimum export price (MEP).

Asked, Mr Saha said local onion production is also showing an upward trend. "So, there is nothing to be worried about onion prices even in the upcoming month of Ramadan."

Wholesale prices of local murikata (early) and haali (seasonal) declined to Tk 74-Tk 80 at Shyambazar on Thursday evening from Tk 82-Tk 85 a kg in the morning.

Prof Golam Hafeez Kennedy, an agri-economist, said local farmers have invested heavily in onion farming this year.

Prices of onion seed for seasonal variety (haali) shot up to even Tk 5,000 a kg this season which was hardly traded above Tk 1,500 a kg earlier, he added.

"Production cost of haali onion is Tk 35-Tk 40 a kg this year, depending on the regions."

Mr Kennedy said, "India is lifting ban on onion exports to safeguard its farmers. Bangladesh should also follow India to protect the interests of its peasantry."

"Import policy on onion should be reviewed to protect the interests of both the farmers and consumers," he added.

Bangladesh is expected to produce 2.3 million tonnes of onion in the current season from 0.219 million hectares of land, said Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).

The country has a demand for 2.4-2.5 million tonnes of onion. It also imports another 0.9-1.1 million tonnes of onion mainly from India.

But Turkey, Egypt, Myanmar and some other countries comprised a good share of import in last four months following the ban on onion exports by India.


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