December 15, 2023
DHAKA – A total of 93 traders across the country were fined a total of Tk 414,500 by the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection (DNCRP) yesterday for “holding back stocks of onion to artificially raise prices”.
The DNCRP conducted market monitoring simultaneously in 40 districts, including Dhaka where three teams were active, according to a DNCRP press release.
This led to a drop in prices and normalcy was returning to supplies, said the directorate.
Per kilogramme prices had increased by as much as Tk 100 overnight on December 9 as traders began stockpiling a day after news broke that India has banned the vegetable’s export till March next year to increasing availability in their domestic markets and keep prices in check.
India had already been restricting its export by setting a minimum price of $800 per tonne on October 28.
After the ban, each kg started selling for around Tk 240.
However, yesterday the local variety sold at Tk 90 to Tk 160 per kg whereas imported onion at Tk 110 to Tk 140 in Dhaka’s markets, showed the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh data.
The prices have shot up although there are adequate supplies, according to a Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) report of December 10 — laying bare the extent of market manipulation by a section of dishonest traders.
For instance, in the first five months of the fiscal year, onion imports were up 77.8 percent year-on-year to about 5.3 lakh tonnes, showed the report.
Local production last fiscal year, that wrapped up on last June 30, was 25.5 lakh tonnes.
“Considering local production and imports, there is likely to be oversupply in the market,” said the BTTC report.
As of November 30, the Bangladesh market received 30.8 lakh tonnes of onions from local and foreign sources this year, said the report.
The annual demand for onion in Bangladesh is 27 lakh tonnes to 28 lakh tonnes, some 65 percent to 70 percent of which is met through local production.