Prices of three main cooking ingredients - onion, ginger and garlic - increased ignificantly last week compounding owes of the consumers already battered by rising costs of other key essential items.
The rising trend in prices of the three tuber spices was attributed to a supply crunch by the traders. However, the experts found that market syndication was responsible for the unusual hike.
The price of local variety of onion increased to Tk 50- 55 per kilogramme (kg) while that of imported one rose to Tk 40-45 a kg in the city kitchen markets on Thursday from Tk 35-38 and Tk 25-30 respectively a week back.
The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) monitored a 64 per cent (imported) and 33 per cent (local) hike in onion prices in one week.
Ginger prices hit Tk 180- 220 per kg last week from Tk 140-Tk 150 earlier.
Garlic of imported variety became pricier by Tk 20 a kg as the spice was sold at Tk 150- 170 per kg based on quality.
Local garlic prices increased to Tk 120- 130 a kg from Tk 100- 120 seven days back. Data provided by the TCB showed a 20-36 per cent hike in garlic and 20 per cent in ginger prices in a single week.
It also said that the current onion, garlic and ginger prices are 13 per cent, 110 per cent and 78 per cent higher respectively than that of a year ago. Contacted, Narayan Chandra Saha, proprietor of Nabin Traders at Shaymbazar, the biggest wholesale market of local spice in the city, said domestic onion production had severely been affected by nor'wester this year in March-April period. He said that hailstorm caused a consifersable decline in onion and other spice production this year.
The cost of the local variety of onion has been rising fast in Faridpur, Pabna, Bogura, Kushtia, Chuadanga and Jhinaidah districts for the last two-and-a-half weeks resulting in a surge in its prices in the city market, he stated. He said they were selling local onion at Tk 35-37 a kg for the last couple of days and imported one at Tk 28-29 a kg.
He mentioned that prices have increased by Tk 5.0-7.0 a kg at Shyambazar just in seven days, cautioning that it may rise further as the import cost has also increased.
Narayan Chandra and another importer Haji Kamal Uddin informed the FE that imported Indian onion was sold at Tk 29- 30 a kg at Benapole land port area in Jessore on Thursday which means the onion price is poised to increase further.
He said production of two other key cooking items - garlic and ginger - also witnessed the same situation as in the case of onion this season.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said their market reports found onion import cost is still below Tk 22 a kg.
He said best quality Indian onion were being exported at US $ 245- $250 a tonne till the last day of the week (July 10).
He said imported onion shouldn't be more than Tk 30 a kg at retail markets.
He said import costs of garlic and ginger are not more than Tk 90 a kg now.
But those were being retailed at Tk 150-Tk 200 a kg amid a lack in market monitoring by the concerned authorities, he said.
He urged the Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) to publish import costs of essential items on a regular basis on their website so that traders couldn't set prices at their wish.
The country produces 1.9 million tonnes of onion, 0.32 million tonnes of garlic and 0.18 million tonnes of ginger annually.
It also imports 1.0 million tonnes of onion, 0.4 million tonnes of garlic and 0.5 million tonnes of ginger per annum to fill up the demand-production gap, according to the commerce ministry.
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