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Economics Commentary- Prices of onions jumped yesterday, buoyed by a ban by India on the export of the item

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Introduction

Onion prices rise on Indian ban Staff Correspondent Prices of onions jumped yesterday, buoyed by a ban by India on the export of the item, traders said. The price of onions rose to Tk 36-45 a kilogram yesterday from Tk 32-42 on Thursday in markets in Dhaka, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh. The wholesale prices of onions also rose. ?There is a lack in the supply of onions in the market. Those who are still hoarding stocks are reluctant to sell as well,? said Idris Ahmed, owner of a wholesale store, Dhaka Baniyalaya at Shyambazar. He said onions were selling at Tk 35-36 a kilogram at the wholesale market of Shyambazar yesterday. Prices went up since Friday afternoon, after news of the ban by India, said Ahmed. The prices of locally produced onions also rose, influenced by the move by India, he added. This is the second time in less than a year that India restricted onion exports to curb the hike in prices, according to Indian news reports. ...read more.

Middle

resulting in price rise. Price of onion in the market is determined by the demand (the amount of a commodity that consumers are willing and able to buy at different prices) for and the supply of onions. Initially the market was equilibrium (this is the point where demand is equal to supply) at point E where at P* price Q* amount was purchased and sold. Due to the ban imposed by the Indian government on exports of onions, the supply of onions in the Bangladesh market has decreased substantially. This is because Bangladesh relies on imports of onions from neighboring countries for the supply in its domestic market D S1 S S1 S D Q1 Q Quantity of Onions The decrease in supply will shift the supply curve to the left from S to S1. This will result in a new equilibrium E1 with a higher equilibrium price. As the article says that the ?price of onion rose to Tk 36-45 a kilogram from Tk 32-42 The higher onion prices will reduce the quantity demanded and people with limited income or low income will have to switch to the available substitutes (goods which satisfy the same wants) ...read more.

Conclusion

However this is only a short run solution (time period during which at least one factor of production cannot be changed) solution to deal with the immediate prices. Imports will increase supply and thereby reduced price of this commodity and benefit the Bangladeshi households. To deal with this problem in the long run (time period where all factors become variable) the Bangladeshi government should encourage greater domestic production of onion. This can be done by giving subsidy?s to onion producers or spreading awareness to popularise onion production. The government should also try and reduce onion hoarding by traders in Bangladesh market. Hoarding is an illegal activity and the government should be vigilant to stop this. The government also need to improve infrastructure facilities like irrigation, transportation and storage facilities to reduce the fluctuation in the supply of agricultural goods. The government can also build a buffer stock (a stock of essential food grain and strategic materials held by government to deal with unforced seen events) of essential food grains to reduce the fluctuations in the prices of agricultural products like onions. However all this involves a lot of government expenditure which may result in higher government borrowing and greater taxes. ...read more.

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