CHATTOGRAM: Despite import of a large quantity of onion from different countries and release of thousands of tonnes of the cooking spice from Chattogram Port at that time, onion price is yet to come down to the purchasing power of the commoners in the port city.
Onion market observers, consumers and traders said the cost of onion is still prohibitive in Chattogram in spite of pledges made by the government multiple times to control its price and steps taken by the local administration to curb any artificial price hike and illegal hoarding.
Visiting different markets in the port city on Thursday, this correspondent found onion, one of the main cooking ingredients in Bangladesh, selling at Tk 180-210 per kilogram at retail levels.
Both, consumers and traders said the onion price has continued to remain nearly at its previous high in spite of selling of the spice by state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) at Tk 45 a kg through trucks in the city.
Meanwhile, more onion are being imported and released through the sea port with a large quantity of the spice will be cleared tomorrow and handed over to the TCB by its importer.
City Group, a big importer of onion, has imported 2,500 metric tonnes (MT) of onion from Turkey and the consignment will arrive at the outer shore of the sea port by MCC Taipei, a large cargo ship, on Friday, port sources said.
According to the sources, more than 0.412 million (4,12,979) tonnes of onion have been imported from different countries through Chattogram Port, the prime sea port of the country in the last several months, and of the consignment, over 11,000 tonnes have been distributed so far.
On the other hand, the importers have taken IP from the Department Agricultural Expansion (DAE) to import more 97,885 tonnes of onions. Of them, a total of 62,374 tonnes to be imported from Egypt, 13,083 tonnes from China, 13,068 tonnes from Turkey, 5,880 tonnes from Pakistan, 1,600 tonnes from Sri Lanka, 1,000 tonnes from Belgium, 680 tonnes from the Netherlands, 200 tonnes from Uzbekistan and 168 tonnes from United Arab Emirates (UAE), government officials, importers and other reliable sources said.
Deputy Director of DAE at Chittagong Port Dr Md Asaduzzaman Bulbul said the government attaches topmost importance on issuing of IP for onion import to meet the local demand and control the price.
He expressed the hope that the price will be controlled soon as more onions are being imported various countries by the importers.
TCB, agriculture ministry and Customs sources said, a total of 22,562 metric tonnes of onion were imported through Teknaf Land Port from Myanmar in November while 21,844 MT were imported through the same port in October.
The stock of onion in Chattogram's big wholesale markets in Khatunganj, Asadganj and Chaktai is adequate.
Chairman of BSM Group Abul Bashar said they are importing onion from China and Egypt. A total of 541 MT onion imported by BSM Group from China and Egypt, were unloaded at Chittagong Port on November 24, he said.
"We will continue to import onion till the price hike of the spice is brought under control," he added.
Officials said the TCB started truck sale of onion here on November 19 at Tk 45 a kg and a total of 13 trucks of the state-owned entity are selling onion at different spots in the port city every day.
Director of TCB in Chattogram Jamal Uddin Ahamed said they are selling mainly the imported onion by trucks here. "One person can buy maximum one kg onion from the TCB truck," he added.
However, General Secretary of Chattogram Onion Importers Association Mohammed Idris said the onion price at wholesale markets has already been controlled.
The district administration has deployed mobile courts and conducting dives at both wholesale and retail markets almost every day in the southern-most divisional city everyday to tame the price hike, importers and local administration officials said.
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