No More Onion Import from India: Minister

Bangladesh will not import onions from India any more, says Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.

"Last year's export ban without notice was a lesson for us, which prompted the government to boost local production by providing incentives to farmers," he said at his Rangpur residence on Saturday (Jan 25).

The Rangpur-4 MP confirmed that there would be no soybean oil and sugar crisis in the Ramadan, saying, "We have taken steps to triple soybean oil imports."

According to him, locally produced sugar is enough to meet the demand in Ramadan.

Rates of onions skyrocketed in Bangladesh after India prohibited their onion exports with immediate effect in September of last year. Onion rates in the local markets traversed Tk 250 a kg.

Bangladesh is much dependent on India to import onions.

India exported 2.2 million tonnes of fresh onions in the 2018-19 fiscal year that ended on Mar 30, according to a Reuters report.

At the same time, Bangladesh imported 578,111 tonnes of the kitchen staple from India, according to data compiled by India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

In a bid to tackle the crisis, the government started open market sales across the country and imported onions from Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and Myanmar.

Bangladesh consumes a higher quantity of onions than the country produces annually.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the country's onion production in 2016-17 fiscal was 1.86 million tonnes against the demand for 2.4 million tonnes.

In August last year, the commerce ministry said that the country had 1.6 million tonnes of onions in stock and claimed that the quantity was good enough to meet the local demand.

Bangladesh ranks eighth on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) list of top ten onion-producing countries.

China tops the FAO list with annual production of 24.28 million tonne, followed by India 22.42 million tonne, USA 3.73 million tonne, Iran 2.37 million tonne, Egypt 2.37 million tonne, Russian Federation 2.13 million tonne, Turkey 2.13 million tonne, Bangladesh 1.86 million tonne, Pakistan 1.83 million tonne and The Netherlands 1.77 million tonne.

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