Minister hopes the country would be self-sufficient in onion production within next three years
The government would shortly take decision on the import of onion, taking into consideration the interests of both consumers and onion producers, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has said.
"Onions under previous LCs [Letter of credits] are currently arriving in the country. The import price of those bulbs is around Tk39 per kilogramme," the minister told reporters at his office on Sunday.
India recently lifted export ban on the kitchen staple after three and half a months, and the price of locally produced onions started to fall subsequently.
In Bangladesh wholesale market, the price of the items dropped to Tk22-Tk25, which was Tk40 a kg even one week ago.
Local onion farmers said they have been incurring loss with the reduced price while the decision to import onion is likely to add salt to the wounds.
Tipu Munshi said they would decide on the import soon since local onion harvesting will peak in March next.
He also spelled tougher action against unscrupulous traders so that they cannot destabilise the market.
Citing the government plan to become self-sufficient in onion production, the minister said the country currently has 8-9 lakh tonnes of onion shortage per year, but the country's onion production has been rising gradually.
"The government is aware of onion issue. We hope that we would not require to import the item anymore after three years."
He said the government has taken various measures to meet the onion shortage, including use of high quality seeds, encouraging onion growers to increase production rapidly and making arrangements to store 4-5 lakh tonnes of onions during the harvesting season.
Tipu Munshi said the cooking ingredient would be powdered and introduced to the market.
The minister also talked about potato, edible oil and rice – which have been making headlines with their price hike.
"Potato prices have declined. The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) launched potato sales in the open market to rein in price. It is normal now," he commented.
On edible oil, he said the item edged up in local market temporarily since oil price is up in the international market.
"But the government is aware of it and so none can exploit the price hike."
Tipu Munshi said the government rice stock is a bit low now.
That is why the government has decided to import the food staple which has already got under way, he said, adding that rice will be imported to replenish the stock.
"If required, private sector will be engaged in the import of rice," he noted.
Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin was also present during the media briefing.