India’s onion export ban takes spice off Hasina’s plate
India’s decision to ban onion export has impacted the kitchen of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Disclosing that she has asked her cook not to use onion in food due to shortage, Hasina said India’s sudden decision to stop onion exports has caused difficulty for her countrymen and suggested that New Delhi should provide prior information about such decisions in future.
The onion prices have gone up sharply in neighbouring countries after India banned exports of onion to increase availability of the commodity in the domestic market and contain spiralling prices.
“Pyaaz se thoda dikkat ho gaya hamare liye. Mujhe maloom nahi kyun aapne pyaaz band kar diya? Thoda sa notice agar dete toh dusre jagah se laa sakte the. Maine cook ko bol diya ab se khana mein pyaaz dalna bandh kar do. Aage se agar kabhi bhi iss tarah aisa kuch karna hai, toh hume thoda sa pehle bata dena,” (We have been slightly inconvenienced with the ban on onion. I don’t know why did you stop this? If you had given a notice to us, we could have got it from somewhere else. I have instructed my cook not to put onion while preparing food. If you want to do such a thing, then do let us know at the earliest), Bangladesh PM Hasina said in a light-hearted manner at the India-Bangladesh Business Forum. Interestingly, her comments in Hindi left the audience in splits.)
She was addressing India-Bangladesh Business Forum here, which was organised by industry chambers, including CII and Assocham. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was also present at the event.
Bangladesh has been badly hit by India’s export ban, with prices crossing Rs 10,000 per 100 kilogram in Dhaka. The country has turned to the likes of Myanmar, Egypt, Turkey and China to increase supplies and control prices in its markets. In retail markets, one kg of the staple vegetable usually costs 30 taka (36 US cents), but has soared to up to 130 taka after India imposed the export ban over the weekend while it was being sold at Rs 60-70 a kg in India.
About two-thirds of the demand for onions — an essential ingredient in Bangladeshi cuisine — is grown locally by farmers, with the rest mostly imported from neighbouring India, where heavy monsoon rains have reduced the crop. The price of onions is a sensitive subject in South Asia, where shortages can trigger widespread discontent with political ramifications.
According to reports, India’s decision to ban onion exports has also impacted South Asian and Gulf countries, including UAE where prices have gone up sharply. Indian onion exports were valued at over $496 million in the 2018-19.
Last Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce imposed stock limits on both retail and wholsesale traders of onion as onion producing States —Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan — are suffering from floods which impacted the kharif crops and movement of stored onions across the country.
Saturday, 05 October 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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