The government has allowed the export of onions to Bangladesh — those that were contracted by the neighbouring country’s importers but were stuck in transit due to the immediate ban on export of the kitchen staple on September 14 — it is learnt.
The move comes days after Dhaka officially conveyed its “deep concern” over India’s “abrupt” decision to ban the export. Bangladesh is the biggest importer of Indian onions. A large number of trucks laden with the vegetable and on their way to the neighbouring country, had to suddenly stop when New Delhi had announced its decision on September 14.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen had said on Thursday that India’s Ministry of External Affairs was very “repentant” for not informing Bangladesh about the ban in advance. “I heard that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is very repentant. Because they didn’t know about the sudden ban,” he had told reporters.
Surprise ban stays for now
While the ban on export continues for now, a relaxation has been given for onion produce that was in transit. There is no explanation given for the ban on export, and has come as a surprise. The government usually taken this step when prices shoot up and supply remains weaker, but this year the situation is different, as the country has harvested a bumper onion crop and retail prices across cities, after remaining low for quite some time, has just started slowly rising.
The minister had said there was an understanding between the two countries that information would be conveyed in advance when it comes to such matters. It would have been better had Bangladesh been informed about the abrupt decision beforehand, he had said. According to estimates, Bangladesh’s monthly requirement of onions is about 2 lakh tonnes. The country has a stock of around 5.6 lakh tonnes of the bulb and imports of 11,000 tonnes are under process, authorities in Dhaka said.
This is not the first time India has placed such a ban on exports. A similar ban was placed in October 2019. At that time also, Bangladesh had shared its “deep concern” with New Delhi.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had also lamented the ban. “I wish you had informed us before suddenly putting a halt in export of onions. I had to tell my cook I have no other option but to have my food without onions. I would request India to please inform us beforehand while taking such an action. After all, we are neighbours,” Hasina had said in Hindi at a programme in India.
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