That’s because India the world’s biggest seller of the Asian diet staple has banned exports after extended Monsoon downpours delayed harvests & supplies shrivelled.
& Dedicated buyers across the region like Nepalese housewife Seema Pokharel are flummoxed.“This is a terrible increase” said Pokharel, out shopping for vegetables in Kathmandu.
“Onion prices have more than doubled in the last month alone.”Whether it’s Pakistani chicken curry, Bangladeshi biryani or Indian sambar Asian consumers have developed a serious dependence on Indian onion supplies for go-to dishes.
Shorter shipment times than from rival exporters like China or Egypt play a crucial role in preserving the taste of the perishable commodity.But last Sunday New Delhi banned all exports from India after local prices jumped to 4,500 rupees per 100 kg their highest in nearly 6 years due to the delay in summer-sown crop arrivals triggered by longer, heavier rains than usual. Since the ban, countries such as Bangladesh have turned to the likes of Myanmar, Egypt, Turkey & China to increase supplies in a bid bring prices down government officials & traders said.But the hefty volumes lost will be hard to replace.
India exported 2.2 million tonnes of fresh onions in the 2018/19 fiscal year ended March 31 according to data from India’s Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
That’s more than half of all imports by Asian countries traders estimate.
Rising prices of alternative supplies will add to the headache for importers trying to get the vegetable from elsewhere, said Mohammad Idris a trader based in Dhaka.
In the Bangladesh capital, consumers are now being asked to pay 120 taka ($1.42) per kilogramme for their prized onions twice the price a fortnight ago & the highest since December 2013.
“Prices are going up elsewhere in Asia & Europe,” said Idris.
“Other exporting countries are taking advantage of the Indian ban” to raise their asking price.In response to the crisis, the government of Bangladesh has initiated sales of subsidised onions through the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.“We are looking for all possible options to import onions.
Our target is to import in the shortest possible time,” said TCB spokesman Humayun Kabir.But the shipments from elsewhere Iran & Turkey are also potential suppliers that authorities in countries across the region are investigating will all take time.