While the price of onions causes political upheavals in India — the BJP lost power in Delhi due to it in 1998, never so far to regain it — Bangladesh spent sleepless nights over its shortage of the bulbous vegetable last week after the Indian government stopped exporting onions. Now, on India reversing the decision, trucks loaded with onions, which had been stuck for five days in a row, started entering the Port Healy in Bangladesh.
On the first day after the export ban, Bangladesh imported 246 metric tons of onions in 11 trucks. Today, at around 3:30 PM, 11 trucks of onions crossed the Zero Point Gate from India and entered Port Healy.
“Bangladesh is India’s closest friend,” an Indian foreign ministry official had said on condition of anonymity. “India has decided to export 25,000 tonnes of onions to Bangladesh under special arrangements,” he said. The official said the decision is likely to come into force with immediate effect.
Prices of this product have been rising in Bangladesh’s market since India banned onion exports on 14 September.
Wholesalers from different parts of Bangladesh flocked to the port area today, hearing the news of the resumption of onion imports from India. However, importers are worried about the quality of onions.
Meanwhile, the price of onion has come down by Rs 20 per kilogramme in the local retail market due to the arrival of onions from India.
Healy Panama Port Public Relations Officer Sohrab Hossain Pratap Mallick said the Indian government had stopped onion exports last Monday “without any reason”. As a result, a truck loaded with onions, which had been tendered earlier, got stuck inside India. After a successful meeting with traders of the two countries, loaded trucks were allowed to enter the port this afternoon. “I am making arrangements to release the supply coming to the port quickly to keep the market of the country normal so that traders are not harmed,” Mallick said.
However, traders have claimed that a part of the supply is rotten. Importer Saiful Islam said that the quality had deteriorated. “Traders are in trouble as onions are wasted,” he said, adding, “FIve to seven metric tonnes of onions per vehicle are no longer fit for consumption. We are getting it at Rs 40 to 45 per kg in the wholesale market.”
After a five-day ban, Indian onions started arriving through Bhomra in Satkhira, Sonamasjid in Chapainawabganj and Port Healy in Dinajpur today. Last evening, the Indian government had directed the customs department to export onion-laden trucks stranded at various borders in West Bengal to Bangladesh.