Record onion import permitted

In the first 21days of September, the government permitted import of more than 6 lakh tonnes of onions, more than the quantity imported in the whole of last year. 

For the first time, Bangladesh has started the process of importing a quarter of its onion demand from outside India.

The annual demand of onions in the country is about 25 lakh tonnes.  

 As per the rules, these onions are expected to hit the market within the next four months. Importers unable to bring in the permitted onions within this period will get two more months.

In 2019-20, the country imported 5.72 lakh tonnes of onions, 70 percent of which came from India. However, due to the Corona epidemic, imports were closed for the last three months of the fiscal year.

Till Monday, traders have taken permission to import 600244 lakh tonnes of onions from alternative countries. They took permission to import these onions in the first 21 days of this month. This is a record number of permits for importing onions from alternative countries in such a short period of time, officials said.

These onions are expected to start arriving through Chattogram port from the beginning of next month.

On September 17, more than two hundred traders took permission to import the maximum or 1.58 lakh tonnes of onions

in one day. These onions are to be brought through Chattogram port in a total of 894 consignments. This week alone, the import permit exceeds six lakh tonnes, official’s informed.

Azhar Ali,  Director of the Department of Agriculture, Plant Quarantine Center said,  “The number of permits to import onions is a record. If this onion is imported, the market will be flooded. There will be no crisis.”

With the onion crisis in mind last year, preparations are being made in advance so that the crisis does not recur, he added.

According to the Department of Agriculture’s Department Quarantine Center, traders started seeking permission to import onions from alternative countries earlier this month after the rise in onion prices in India, the largest exporting country. From the beginning of this month till the day of stoppage of exports by India, September 14, traders took permission to import 223,000 tonnes of onions. After the suspension of exports, they took permission to import another 3.77 lakh tonnes of onions in five working days till Monday.

For the import of agricultural products like onions, first permission has to be obtained from the Plant Quarantine Center of the Department of Agricultural Extension. This is the initial step of importing agricultural products. Before obtaining this permission, the traders enter into an agreement with the exporting company. After getting permission, the Letter of Credit is opened with the bank.

The country's onion market became volatile on the news of the stop of Indian exports. In one day, it was sold at more than double the price in the retail market.

In order to make the import of onion easy, the government has withdrawn the existing five percent import duty on this essential commodity. Besides, the government agency has started selling onions in the open market through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, TCB. Onions are also being sold online at fixed prices. Due to these reasons, the onion market has become stable at present.