Lesson from rice shortage to export capability may guide the country to achieve self-sufficiency in onion production
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, and veteran parliamentarian Tofail Ahmed have emphasised achieving self-sufficiency in onion production.
Referring to the fact that Bangladesh was once largely dependent on rice import to meet the local demand but that it is now capable of exporting the staple, Tofail Ahmed said, "I think it is a must to increase onion production so that we can reach the capability to export it by next two years," he added.
Tofail, also the chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Ministry said this at a press conference after the Standing Committee meeting at the National Parliament on Sunday. He said onion prices would calm down after locally grown onions arrive at markets.
Besides, India's export withdrawal and prompt import from Egypt, Turkey and Uzbekistan could rein in onion prices.
"We produce 60 percent of the total annual demand and the rest 40 percent are imported. 90 percent of the imported onions come from neighbouring India," said the senior Awami League leader.
"Onion prices are high almost in every country except Egypt, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Onions can be imported from these countries if we can carry the cooking staple by ship. The cost will be Tk52 per kilogram if we bring those by the sea while planeload of per kilogram of onion will cost Tk250," he argued.
"There is no syndicate in the country. The businessmen are our friends. We will work together and build the country together," he said adding, "This year's onion shortage was sudden and we did not have a hand in it."
Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said that onion import has dropped by 75 percent recently, prompting the price hike.
"Now we must emphasise our domestic production. It must be increased," the minister said.
About the skyrocketing prices, Tipu Munshi said currently there is a huge shortage of the bulb in the country. That is why the government cannot control its price.
"We need to wait till December when the locally grown onions will be harvested," concluded the commerce minister.