The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab) have jointly launched a programme titled "Get Onions Comfortably at Home."
The initiative will sell onions online and aims to curb the rise in onion prices. Also, it will help middle class buyers to purchase onions easily using the online services.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi inaugurated the programme on Sunday afternoon.
People will be able to buy onions through a few selected online shops and on a limited scale.
Currently, the price of onions has been set at Tk36 per kilogram, and a buyer can buy a maximum of 5 kilograms of it.
However, for now the purchasing limit has been set at 3 kilograms while the delivery price of each order has been fixed at a maximum of Tk30.
Dr Md Jafar Uddin presided over the launching ceremony and it was hosted by A H M Shafiquzzaman, joint secretary of the ministry.
"I will request people not to panic. Buy the prescribed amount of onions online. The limit has been fixed for how many kg of onions is required for a family for one week. Please, follow this limit," said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
Special guest Hafizur Rahman, joint secretary of the commerce ministry, said that the initiative would be an example of cooperation of the private sector with the government.
"We have succeeded in these initiatives earlier. The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) is a welfare service from the government. To make it more accessible, the Ministry of Commerce has teamed up with the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) to launch the initiative," he said.
TCB Chairman Brigadier General Ariful Hasan said, TCB usually sells products to lower-income group people through its truck sell programme.
"But selling onions from online shops has created an option for those buyers who do not buy products by standing in a queue," said the TCB chairman.
Hafizur Rahman, additional secretary of the Department of Import and Internal Trade, said, "It's onions today. In the future, buyers may get other TCB products online. Although it is a pilot project for the time being, if it is managed properly, it is likely to expand in the future."
Obaidul Azam, additional secretary of the commerce ministry, said, "The online journey began through the mango fair, and now we are reaping the benefits of that journey."
Shomi Kaiser, president of e-Cab, said, "Today we have brought onions online for middle class people in association with the government. Each of the organisations that will participate in the programme has told us they will abide by the policy and rules. And they will prioritise serving the people more than business."
Ishrat Nabila, the director of Chaldal.com, said, "The government has stood by the people, and we have stood by the government."
Currently, eight online service providing institutions will be able to sell onions online in Dhaka and Chattogram.
Five institutions, who may get online dealership of TCB, have been selected initially. They are: Chaldal.com, Shwapno Online, Sindabad.com, Shobjibazar.com, Jachai.com.
Besides, BDsole, EkShop and another company may join in this programme. TCB's onions will also be sold from a common platform for women entrepreneurs called Windy.
The number of organisations will increase further based on demand and supply. For the time being, each institution will receive half a ton of onions on a daily basis and will collect the onions from TCB every three days.
Online companies have set a primary target of selling 10,000 tonnes of onions. The amount may increase further.
TCB's dealership is awarded to e-commerce institutions considering their warehouses, delivery capacity, e-commerce website and recommendations from e-CAB.
Further, the Ministry of Commerce, TCB and e-CAB have formulated a uniform rule and every institution will be obliged to comply with the rules.