Onion prices rising again in Bangladesh

Farmers claim most of their onion supply is already finished, with the small reserve remaining not enough to cover the total demand until fresh stocks arrive after the next four months.

Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu

Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu

The Daily Star


File photo of consumers holding packets of onions. PHOTO: THE DAILY STAR

August 17, 2023

DHAKA – The wholesale price of onion is again increasing in Bangladesh as farmers are quickly running out of stock due to an inadequate supply of the local variety, according to traders and growers.

Farmers claim most of their onion supply is already finished while the small reserve remaining is not enough to cover the total demand until fresh stocks arrive after the next four months.

“So, the price is rising due to poor supply,” said Md Robiul Islam, an onion wholesaler at Ataikula market in Pabna sadar upazila.

The price of onion rose by about Tk 300 per maund (37 kilogrammes) over the past month to reach between Tk 2,700 and Tk 3,000 at present.

“Due to the low supply, only five to six truckloads of onion could be sold today [Wednesday] while it was at least 15 to 20 truckloads previously,” he added.

Md Kamruzzaman, a leading onion grower of Durgapur village in Sujanagar upazila of Pabna, told The Daily Star that he stocked around 1,000 maunds of onion this year.

“But I already sold 700 maunds over the past few months and have little left at home,” he said.

The situation is similar for most farmers throughout Sujanagar upazila, which is the biggest onion producing district in Bangladesh.

Kamruzzaman said their onion stocks would replenish only after harvesting the Kondo variety, which is planted in mid-September and to get yields in early January.

With this backdrop, he demanded the government facilitate a steady supply of imported onion so that prices in the domestic market can remain stable in the months ahead.

However, onion trader Rabiul Islam said the wholesale price of imported onion would also increase in absence of an adequate supply of the local variety.

“This is because onion prices may increase more if imports do not cover the dearth in supply,” he added.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Pabna, a total of 7.37 lakh tonnes of onion were produced on 52,400 hectares of land this year.

The DAE had encouraged farmers to cultivate the summer variety of onion to fulfil demand but most of them are not interested considering the low returns.

As such, only 1.3 hectares of land in the district were used to cultivate the summer variety.

“Cultivating the summer variety of onion is costly and does not offer sufficient yields or profit. So, we are not interested in the summer variety,” Kamruzzaman said.

Md Jamal Uddin, deputy director of the Pabna DAE, said farmers are not interested in cultivating the summer variety as they lack awareness about its benefits.

“The demand for onion grows every year so we are bound to import the crop to fulfil demand,” he said.

“The summer variety onion was introduced to meet this rising demand of onion but farmers are not properly aware of it. If the farmers go for summer variety onion cultivation, we can easily meet the demand,” he added.

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