Onion import through the Hili and Benapole land ports has come to a halt after Eid as the government temporarily suspended imports of the item from India to ensure local farmers get fair price.
The suspension will remain in effect until further notice, sources said.
Director General of the Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection under the commerce ministry AHM Shafiquzzaman told The Business Standard that onion price fell much lower on the occasion of Eid depriving the farmers of fair prices.
"We have temporarily stopped onion imports so that our farmers get a reasonable price. The production was good this year and the farmers will be discouraged to grow onion if they do not get fair price," he explained.
"We are monitoring the market too. We will give permission to import onion if the market gets volatile," Shafiquzzaman added.
A source at Hili landport said that 68 trucks carried the last consignment of onions from India weighing 1902 tons on 30 April. There has been no onion imports through this port after Eid although the port activities resumed on 7 May.
Shahriar Alam, an importer at Hili land port, said that the validity of the permits to import Indian onions was until 5 May. Besides, the import-export activities through Hili and other landports was suspended from 1 May till 6 May due to Eid festival for which he could not import Indian onions.
"We have applied for onion import permission. But the authorities have not issued any permit yet," he said, adding as the demand of onion goes up during Eid-ul-Adha, it would be better to issue import permits to keep the supply smooth.
Deputy Assistant Plant Quarantine Officer at Hili port Yusuf Ali said that the import permits for onion expired on 29 March. But the authorities extended the deadline further till 5 May to keep the onion supply smooth during Ramadan.
On the other hand, the last day for onion import through the Benapole landport was 5 May when 45 trucks entered the port loaded with onion.
Benapole customs sources said that onion import through Benapole started on 20 March when 52 trucks carried 1500 tonnes of onions.
Jahangir Alam, an importer at Benapole, said that the price of per ton onion varied between $111 to $300. The customs duty was 10%.
The wholesale price of Nasik onion is Tk24 to Tk25 and the Haskhali variety Tk18 to Tk19.
But the local varieties were selling at Tk30 for which the farmers were incurring loss at the rate, he said. That's why the onion import has been suspended since 5 May, he added.