The prices of onion were still high in city markets on Thursday although imports from Egypt and Pakistan were pouring in.
Traders said that retail prices of imported onions started to come down but the local variety remained costly due to an off-season supply shortage.
They said that Egyptian onion was selling at Tk 45 a kilogram in the open market on Thursday under the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
The TCB on the day expanded its open market sale of onions down to the district level but the measure had little impact on the price of local onions in the market at large.
In city’s open market on Thursday, the local variety sold for Tk 200 a kilogram while the imported Egyptian and Chinese varieties for Tk 120-130.
The locally produced hybrid variety was retailing at Tk 160-170 a kilogram while the imported Myanmar variety at Tk 150-160 on the day.
The wholesale price of local onion at Karwan Bazar was Tk 190 a kilogram while that of the Egyptian variety Tk 105 on Thursday.
The commerce ministry, however, claimed that the prices of onions had been considerably decreasing as the TCB expanded its OMS operation and the early harvests of the crop started to hit the market.
A ministry press release issued on Thursday said that the number of TCB onion selling points was raised to 50 from 35 and the operation taken down the to district level.
But ministry officials could not say how many districts were brought under the OMS operation.
The S Alam Group, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, in a press release said that it had opened letters of credit to import more than 60,000 tonnes of onions from Egypt and Turkey considering the recent price hike of the item in the country.
In response to a request from the government the group first opened LCs to import 58,500 tonnes of onion by sea, it said.
Later the group opened further LCs to bring in 1,750 more tonnes of the item by air as the sea shipments would take long times to come, according to the release.
The S Alam Group confirmed that air-lifted onions started to reach the country on Wednesday, adding that their total import would take 10 flihgts.
The group said that all their imported onions would be sold through the TCB.
Onion price started rising in Bangladesh after India on September 13 set the minimum export price of the item at $850 a tonne.
The price of the commodity shot up by Tk 15-20 to Tk 55-65 a kilogram in Bangladesh on September 14, the next day, depending on the variety.
On September 29 when India imposed a ban on onion export the price hit Tk 120 a kilogram the following day, on September 30, in Dhaka’s kitchen markets.
The price topped Tk 250 a kilo across the country on November 15.
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