Nationwide Truckers’ strike, if not withdrawn immediately, may lead to volatility in the kitchen market, fear customers
Onion prices that saw a steep rise in the last couple of weeks have started coming down. Meanwhile, the panic created by a rumour over a so-called salt crisis has also waned.
On a visit to various markets in Dhaka on Wednesday, our correspondent found that the price of onions had not dropped very sharply at wholesale markets. The retail price of locally-grown onions was Tk180 to Tk200 per kg, down from Tk250 to Tk260 last week.
The item is selling for Tk130 to Tk160 per kg at wholesale markets in Shyambazar and Karwan Bazar. A few days ago onions sold for as high as Tk230 to Tk240 per kg.
On Wednesday, newly harvested onions sold for Tk90 to Tk100 per kg at wholesale markets, while 'Pata' onions were selling for Tk80 to Tk110 per kg. "Murikata" onions are yet to reach the market.
Almas, a vegetable vendor at Merul Badda, told The Business Standard, "New 'Pata' onions have arrived but in small quantities. I have been selling this type of onion for Tk110 per kg."
The onions imported from Myanmar, Egypt, Turkey and China are available for Tk90 to Tk140 per kg in the wholesale market. These onions are now selling for Tk110 to Tk170 in the retail market.
Md Khorshed, a retailer at Shyambazar, said, "Although a large quantity of imported onions arrived at the market up to this [Wednesday] morning, the local variety of 'Murikata' onions has not."
Meanwhile, after a rumour spread about a salt crisis on Monday, people started rushing to markets on Tuesday to buy salt in large quantities. But no one was seen doing this on Wednesday, thanks to a massive publicity campaign by the government.
Retailers said shoppers on Tuesday bought so much salt that many shopkeepers did not have any salt left to sell on Wednesday, and that the vendors have placed new orders with suppliers.
A salesman at Shahjahan Store in Rampura said customers did not come to the shop to buy salt on Wednesday. He added that his whole stock of salt, enough for a one-month sale, was sold out on Tuesday.
The price of salt did not increase in the market either. Shopkeepers were selling packaged salt for Tk35 per kg.
Meanwhile, a countrywide truckers' strike beginning on Wednesday has been a matter of concern.
Usually, trucks carry various commodities from different districts to wholesale markets in the capital, and prices of various goods, including vegetables, may rise on Thursday if the strike is not withdrawn by Wednesday night, they said.
Hasan, a private-sector employee who came to Karwan Bazar for shopping, said, "Prices of some commodities may go up if the transport strike does not come to an end very soon. So, I have bought vegetables and fish in more quantities than I usually do."
A trader at Karwan Bazar said big trucks usually enter the market at night. But many commodities from nearby areas like Savar and Manikganj arrive in Dhaka by mini-trucks during the daytime.
However, no small truck was seen entering Dhaka till Wednesday evening, he said.
Vegetable wholesaler Mostafa Kamal said, "Vegetables that entered my warehouse last night are already sold out. I have placed new orders for vegetables which are supposed to reach today [Wednesday], but I am not sure if they will arrive."