Onion emergency in Bangladesh

Onions are very important in Bangladeshi cuisine. The vegetable is a staple in the country's cooking. However, many people are finding it difficult to buy onions. There is a shortage of them, which means prices have rocketed. Many Bangladeshis simply cannot afford to buy onions. Bangladesh traditionally imports onions from its neighbour India. Recent heavy monsoon rains in India damaged a lot of India's onion harvest. This has made India ban exports to Bangladesh. The price of one kilogram of onions in Bangladeshi markets has risen from US36 cents to around $3.25. This is nearly a ten-fold increase. Bangladesh's opposition party has called for nationwide protests over the record prices.

The onion crisis is so serious that even the Prime Minister has stopped using it in her cooking. Sheikh Hasina Wazed said she is using onion alternatives in her dishes. A limited number of onions are on sale in several Dhaka markets at twice their usual price. Hundreds of people queue for hours to buy just one kilo. A 41-year-old English teacher said: "Even if I have to stand another two hours, I will do that. I can save some money. I have never seen onion prices this high." A Dhaka resident said a lot of people in her neighbourhood have stopped eating onions. She said: "It has been 15 days since I bought one kilo of onion." Many street-food sellers can no longer make their onion-based snacks.