The government is mulling alternative sources to import of garlic and ginger from to keep the commodity prices stable on the local market as resumption of shipment from China has become uncertain amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Traders have already increased the prices of garlic and ginger on the local market on the coronavirus outbreak as a pretext although shipment of the items had already been suspended for the Chinese New Year holiday.
Bangladesh largely depends on imports from China to meet its local demand for garlic and ginger.
The traders said that China extended the New Year holiday this year till February 9 in a bid to contain the spread of the virus and it was uncertain whether the import of the items would resume within a short time.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries are a report on the impact of the outbreak on local trade and businesses and is scheduled to submit it to the commerce ministry today.
‘We are waiting for the impact assessment report from the apex trade body. After getting the report on Monday we will start discussions with the traders to find alternative sources of essential commodities including garlic and ginger,’ commerce minister Tipu Munshi told New Age on Sunday.
He said that the ministry was not worried about the supply of onion as the item was imported from China in very small amounts and Bangladesh had found alternative sources to import the item from.
The government will hopefully be able to overcome the tension over the availability of garlic and ginger ahead of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for the Muslims which is due to start in April, the minister said.
‘We will observe the situation for another two or three days and will go for exploring alternative import sources, if necessary,’ he said.
China’s State Council extended the Lunar New Year holiday till February 9 this year; the holiday was originally scheduled to be observed in January 24-30.
Senior FBCCI vice-president Md Muntakim Ashraf said that they had circulated a letter among the chambers and trade associations seeking impact assessment reports of the outbreak on trade and businesses in their respective sectors.
He said that most business associations feared that if the outbreak was not contained soon, the China supply chain of raw materials and essential commodities would be disrupted.
After getting the feedback from all the trade bodies, the FBCCI would prepare a comprehensive report and begin discussion on exploring alternative sources, he said.
Md Golam Mowla, general secretary of the Moulvibazar Traders’ Association, said that the government should find a way to keep the supply and prices of garlic and ginger on the local market stable as the country mostly depended on China for the commodities.
He also said that some of the local traders were taking the advantage of the outbreak to raise the prices of ginger and garlic.
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