The Financial Express

Bangladesh authorities alerted to onion import from India

| Updated: June 12, 2021 15:44:45

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Bangladesh can now avail competitive advantages through importing onion from India to offset its possible shortfall, said Bangladesh high commission in New Delhi, India.

The mission's observations came in a report on 'Onion production and market situation of India', which was sent to the commerce ministry for taking required action in this regard.

Wholesale price of onions normally remains low during the months of June and July in India, said the report.

"Since, Bangladesh needs to import onion; it would be beneficial for Bangladesh to import onion from India during these periods of time," read the report.

However, the prices of the key kitchen commodity now remain stable in the country's market, a senior official of the commerce ministry said.

In 2019 last, the country witnessed an unusual hike in the prices of some essential items, especially onions. Onion price rose to nearly Tk 300 a kg then.

Currently, the commerce ministry is keeping a close watch on the key import and supply channels on the most-consumed item onion to avoid the repetition of unusual price hike and also to keep onion prices stable in the domestic market by enhancing its supply, the officials added.

Bangladesh has a demand for 2.3-2.5 million tonnes, according to the ministry. It also imports an estimated 0.9 to 1.1-million tonnes against its deficit.

The country imported 0.53 million tonnes of onion till May 22 this year, according to statistics.

This is to mention that neighbouring India restricted onion export on account of its production shortfall first on 29 September in 2019 and later on 14 September last year.

The report, written by the commercial councillor of Bangladesh mission in New Delhi, said, "Price of onion across different states of India remained stable over the months of May and June of 2021. However, the price level of onion remained higher than that of the previous year."

The letter mentioned that "the wholesale onion prices remained within the range of Rs 1500 to Rs 1,800 a quintal in Nasik, Maharashtra. During the pick [peak] of Rabi season [the] price of onion usually goes as low as Rs 800 per quintal".

"Despite the Corona pandemic and lockdown situation, the Indian Government is expecting a slight growth in onion production in 2021," cited the report.

According to First Advance Estimates of 2020-21 of the Ministry of Agriculture of India, onion production has been estimated to be 26.29 million tonnes in 2020-21, compared to 26.09 million tonnes in 2019-20.

"Over the last two years, it was observed that the price level of onions abruptly increased during the month[s] of August and September," the letter pointed out.

In both the years, severe weather conditions damaged major onion crops in India. So, "the Indian government imposed ban on export of onion on 29 Sept 2019 and 14 September 2020 respectively".

The sudden imposition of export ban severely impacted the price level of onion in Bangladesh then, added the letter.

Bangladesh this year is expecting 2.47 million tonnes of onion output - though the demand is 2.5-million tonnes, according to the agriculture ministry.

The rest of the demand will be met through imports from Egypt, Turkey, Myanmar, China, Pakistan and India. Bangladesh has squeezed onion imports from India in recent years.

Onion production was 1.91-million tonnes last year by calculating 25 per cent damage during processing.

In recent times, the prices of onion have declined to Tk 5/10 and Tk 10/12 in the retail and wholesale levels respectively.

Local onions were sold at Tk 45-55 a kilogram on Friday which was Tk 50-60 per kg a week back.

Imported onions were retailed at Tk 45-50 a kg from Tk 50-55 a kg earlier, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

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