Spice prices spiral 110pc as Eid nears

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 23 Aug 2017, 22:09:23

Spice prices spiral 110pc as Eid nears

Onion sees highest hike
Yasir Wardad

With the sacrificial festival Eid-ul-Azha approaching, prices of most spices have spiralled in the last few weeks despite adequate supply.

Traders have attributed the hike to increased import price, heavy rain and bad roads, but observers said prices of spices soared due to market domination by big traders and importers.

The prices of spices, used in meat recipe, went up by 10 to 110 per cent in a month, of which onion and chilli witnessed the highest spike, according to traders.

Onion witnessed 84-100 per cent, garlic 15 per cent, ginger 20 per cent, green chilli 110, grinded chilli 15 per cent, coriander seed 16 per cent, garam masala like cumin seed by 10 per cent, cardamom 10 per cent, cinnamon 10 per cent, and clove by 12 per cent at retail markets in a month, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) and Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM).   

Local onion is selling at Tk 55-Tk 60 and imported at Tk 45-Tk 55 in the last one and a half weeks in the city kitchen markets.

However, onion is being traded at 72 per cent higher now than the corresponding period of the last year.

Tariqul Islam, a grocer at Katasur, Mohammadpur in the city, told the FE that prices of onion has been increasing almost every day in the last four weeks.

Prices of garlic, ginger, grinded chilli, garam masala have also been surging following Eid-ul-Azha when demands usually rise, he said.

The grocer said that the price is rising despite the fact that there have been a plenty of supply at the wholesale market.

Narayan Chandra Saha, an importer in the city's biggest spice market Shyambazar, said import costs of onion have tripled in a month as floods caused crop losses in India.

"Prices of onion are now Tk 40-Tk 44 a kg in India's biggest wholesale market Lasalgaon," he said.

He said after the hike in imported produce, prices of local onion have also been raised by traders in Faridpur, Pabna, Jhenidah, and Meherpur districts in a month, which reflected in the city markets.

He said they were selling local onion at Tk 46-Tk 52 a kg now.

However, production of onion was 1.85 million tonnes while private importers brought another 0.75 million tonnes from abroad this year until July, which means a 2.6 million tonnes of availability against the demand of 2.2 million tonnes, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).

According to importers at Shyambazar, Jessore and Dinajpur, onion was imported at Tk 12 to Tk 22 per kg between January and July this year.

The ministry of commerce data showed import of hot spices climbed by 10 to 80 per cent higher than that of last year owing to static global prices and import duty.

Some 21,500 tonnes of cumin seed, 10,000 tonnes of cinnamon, 650 tonnes of clove and 3,200 tonnes of cardamom were imported this year so far by private importers in the country.

Md Enayetullah, president of Bangladesh Garam Masala Wholesalers' Association, told the FE that prices of such spices have not increased at Khatunganj (Chittagong) or at Moulovibazar (Dhaka) wholesales.

He said the best quality cumin had been selling at Tk 360-Tk 380 a kg for the last two months at major wholesales. He said that retailers have raised the prices of garam masala ahead of this sacrificial Eid.       

Garlic production was 4.5 million tonnes while traders brought another 0.4 million tonnes from abroad, according to the ministry data.

Imported garlic was selling at Tk 130-150 a kg at retail, according to the TCB.

Meanwhile, some 0.3 million tonnes of ginger has been imported at Tk 40-Tk 60 a kg from Nepal, India and China so far in 2017 while local production was 0.22 million tonnes.

The product is now selling at Tk 90-130 a kg at retail markets. Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) secretary Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan said many unscrupulous traders are now busy hoarding commodities following flood and the upcoming sacrificial festival to make hefty profit.

There is no rationale behind such hike in local onion prices as production was satisfactory and primary trading was done at Tk 16-Tk 24 a kg between February and May.

He said the government monitoring agencies should start their activities in the market ahead of Eid.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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