Nima | Gelephu

The price of onions in Gelephu has increased by more than two-folds.

This could have been avoided if private vendors from Gelephu were allowed to import the onions.

A kilogram of onion costs Nu 120 today, the highest retail price so far, according to the vendors. And the cost increases to Nu 150 per kilo when it reaches the gewogs.

Food Corporation of Bhutan imported 50 metric tonnes of onions out of 150MT allowed under special arrangements to date.

One of the vendors, Dorji Dema, said that it was confusing to decide the retail price. “There were no weight tags attached to the bags. Some bags weighed 47, 41, and 55 kilos. But we have to pay for 55kgs,” she said.

She added that the onions would be sold at an affordable rate if the vendors are allowed to import. “It could have not gone higher than Nu 80 per kg. Moreover, the quality of the onions are bad,” said Dorji Dema.

The vendors have to collect onions from the FCB auction yard.

“We have to bear the transport charges. This can be avoided if we are allowed to import individually,” said Dorji Dema.

Kinzang Dhendup said the price of onion increased in India because of the upcoming festive season. “FCB enjoys a monopoly and there are no competitions for now,” he said.

The cost of onions from the source is around Nu 55 per kg and the price is expected to increase, according to the vendors.

“There are more middleman and workers involved while importing. This way the market price increases,” said Kinzang Dhendup.

A senior manager with FCB, Karuna Chhetri, said vendors paid Nu 4,133 for a bag of onion.

The cost of onions at FCB is Nu 75 per kilo. The vendors have to pay Nu 20 per bag to the loaders.

The national Covid-19 task force is planning to allow private parties to import onions from Gelephu, Samdrupjongkhar, and Phuentsholing.

FCBL office in Gelephu alone imported 50MT to date and distributed it to the central region. The import is also done from Phuentsholing and Samdrupjonkhar for the rest of the regions.

BCCI’s regional secretary, Kelzang, said that the private vendors would be able to import onions by this weekend if everything goes as planned.

“A good quality onions will reach the market at an affordable price,” he said.

He added that a minimum of 28MT of onions is required to meet the weekly demand of the central region.

India stopped the export of onions in September owing to the shortage of supply that fueled the price hike in India in the past month. The import of Onions resumed on Monday.