Published:  12:58 AM, 12 August 2017

Syndicates control onion market

Syndicates control onion market

Despite import and sufficient supply of onion in the domestic market, prices of this important daily essential have become more than double in a week's time just ahead of holy Eid-ul-Azha, much to the agony of consumers. Strong syndicates in Bangladesh and India are allegedly involved with the hiking of the price of the onion just before Eid-ul-Azha, one of the most important religious festivals of Muslims, sources said.

Sources said the prices of onion were taka 20-25 per kg last week. But the prices have become Taka 50 to 70 per kg this week. Local retailers and consumers always allege that the wholesale traders and importers are behind this sudden hike in the prices of onion before the Eid-ul-Azha. But, in the current year, syndicates are hiking the prices of onion several times more than the regular market prices, which is very unfortunate, they alleged.

While talking to The Asian Age, president of the Chaktai Khatoonganj Merchant Welfare Association Solaiman Badsha said, "Due to the recent floods in India, the exporters of onion have increased the prices of onion last week. So, the importers have to import the onion in high price. So, the price is hiked in Bangladesh."

He said, "Moreover, the recent water logging in Khatoonganj and other wholesale business hubs in Bangladesh damaged our imported essentials. The loss of the importers is too much. As the earlier imported onion and other essentials have already been damaged, we have to import again in high price. So, the price of onion is hiking recently."

Solaiman Badsha said, 'Businessmen and wholesalers in the port city's commodity hubs Khatunganj and Chaktai suffered heavy losses after their stocks were damaged by water congestion following heavy rains for the last couple of days. Most of the areas of Khatunganj, Chaktai and neighboring Asadganj, Korbaniganj and Rajakhali located on either side of the Chaktai canal went under knee-deep to waist-deep water."

Sources said large quantities of perishable commodities, including onions, garlic, rice, lentils, sugar, tea and spices after water flooded into the shops and warehouses at the wholesale markets. Rains and flood water congestion forced traders to raise the height of the door still of both shops and warehouses in an effort to prevent water from coming in. However, even this was not enough as water managed to seep in through the walls.

The traders of the century-old business hub said the problem worsened further because of the solid waste and filth choking up the Chaktai canal. The commodity hubs house about 3,000 businesses and more than 5,000 warehouses. According to the Khatunganj Merchant Association, the daily turnover in the wholesale market stands at Tk1200-1500cr. The traders said they had to incur huge losses due to the chronic water-logging problem.

General secretary of the Chaktai Khatongonj Merchant Welfare Association Ehsan Ullah Jayedi said, "Not only the price of onion, but also prices of other essentials like zinger, spices etc are also increasing due to the flood in India and water logging at Khatoonganj and Chaktai and adjoin commercial hubs of the country."

Wholesalers alleged that the onion is being imported from India through Hilly, Bhomra and Beanpole land ports. But, the cost of importing of onion is increasing 16,000 to 17,000 taka per MT in last week. Besides, the importers need at least 16 to 18 days for completing the formalities to import the onion which increased the cost of importing of onion now.

Sources among the importers said the import of onion and other spices is decreasing now due to price hike in India. They said, "On august 1 only 43 trucks, on August 2 only 25 trucks, on August 3 only 29 trucks loaded with onion have entered Bangladesh from India. Besides, a total of 1,097 trucks loaded with onion have entered Bangladesh from India in last month (July 2017).

Retailers said that the prices of spices are used to hike before Eid-ul-Azha every year. Ramnath Swadagor of Reajuddin Bazar said, "We are buying onion from wholesale market at high prices and are selling them in retail market by keeping a margin of 10 to 20 percent profit. So, price of onion and other spices is going up now."

Jamal Hossain Swadagor, another retail seller said, "The retail market cannot control the price. It is the whole-sale market and importers who control the prices of essentials including onion."  Shahajan Meah, another trader of Kajirdewri said, "Onion price is hiked by syndicates of dishonest wholesalers and importers. Just before Eid-ul-Azha, the syndicates are active again like every year."

However, the country people are suffering a lot due to the sudden price hike of onion and other spices just before Eid-ul-Azha. But, the government is yet to come up with any effective step to control the price hike of onion and other essentials before the holy Eid-ul-Azha.

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