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December 13, 2019

Onion imports possible only in case of shortage: Minister

A man carrying sacks of onion near a warehouse in Yangon. Photo: Phoe Khwar
A man carrying sacks of onion near a warehouse in Yangon. Photo: Phoe Khwar

Despite the surge in onion prices in the local market, onion imports will not be allowed during harvest time, said Deputy Minister for Commerce U Aung Htoo. The minister said imports will be allowed only if there is a shortage of onions in the local market coupled with a price escalation.
At present, more than 160 tons of onions from central Myanmar have flooded the local market.
The local market has witnessed a huge increase in onion prices owing to strong demand from Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh suspended purchase of Myanmar onions in October-end as the price rose dramatically in Dhaka. On 20 September, onions fetched K500-900 per viss (one viss equals 1.6 kg) in the wholesale market. The price jumped to K2,000 per viss on 16 November. “In early November, onions were priced around K3,000 per viss in the retail market of Pazuntaung Township. The price shot up to K4,000 per viss on 15 November,” said a housewife who lives on the junction of Bogyoke Road and 51st street. At the beginning of the onion season, onions were being sold for just K400-500 per viss. But, the prices rose in a volatile market mid-year. Although traders said stocking onions might lead to losses, the price of domestic onions crossed K3,000 per viss in 2015, 2018, and 2019. “The price of onions was K800-900 per viss in September. Last month, Bangladesh’s demand for Myanmar’s onions coupled with high demand in the local market hiked up prices,” according to the Mandalay commodity depot. Earlier, in response to the surge in prices, the government had allowed onion imports. In the previous years, China flooded the onion market with bulk supply. As their production in Myanmar exceeds self-sufficiency, onions are also shipped to external markets. Onion prices may change depending on the weather conditions and market supply, said traders.—GNLM (Translated by EMM)

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