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Subsidized onions: Online platforms run out of stock early on day 1

  • Published at 08:30 pm September 21st, 2020
Subsidized onions: Online platforms run out of stock early on day 1

Consumers will now be able to purchase up to three kilograms of onions at Tk36 from eight e-commerce platforms

The online and subsidized sale of onions via e-commerce platforms has already picked pace on its first day of sale on Monday, with their daily stock running out before the end of the day.

Meant to curb onion price hike and make it available digitally for consumers, the e-commerce companies which received dealerships from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) said the demand for onions was beyond their expectation.

Humayun Kabir, TCB spokesperson, said three out of the eight e-commerce companies received 1,500 tons of onions from them as their three-day allocation, from which they can sell 500kg each day.

The stock can be replenished after every three days, Kabir also said.

"We stock from the local markets. But if we receive good response from the digital sales, then we will try to increase our stock and also raise the daily allocation," he added. 

Ishrat Jahan, director of Chaldal.com, said: “We started selling at 1.30 pm and received a huge number of orders. We buy onions from the TCB at Tk30 per kilogram and sell at Tk36 per kg."

Khawja Ashhad Belal, head of e-commerce innovation at ACI Logistics (who runs Shwapno), said: “The daily allocation of 500kg is inadequate, compared to the volume of orders."

Asked if any loophole was there and if someone could order more than their daily limit, he replied that their technical team oversees the order logs and prevents that from happening.

Shahida Begum from Rampura, said she did not get out of her house amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

After hearing about the subsidized onion sale, she ordered 3kg, the maximum amount per user, from Chaldal. She received it in two hours, and was satisfied with the quality of the bulb.

"Our daily allocation from the TCB is 500kg, but it finished within two hours yesterday from 10:00am to 12 noon," said Muhammad Shahin, founder and CEO of Sobjibazaar.com.

Consumers will now be able to purchase up to three kilograms of onions at Tk36 from eight e-commerce platforms. The maximum limit will soon be increased to 5kg.

Delivery charge of onions was fixed at a maximum of Tk30.

Five online platforms received dealerships on Sunday, namely - Chaldal, Shwapno, Sindabad, SobjiBazaar, and Jachai, while three more will also receive their dealership licences soon.

The three remaining platforms are BdSole, Ekshop and another unnamed one. Another e-commerce platform for women entrepreneurs, Windy, was also said to receive TCB dealership to sell onions online soon.

On the other hand, the TCB was also selling onions via the open market sale (OMS) at Tk30 per kg, slated to run until October 1.

They sell onions through 275 OMS trucks across the country.

The market has been in turmoil since the Indian government recently announced a halt to onion exports on September 14. The price of onions more than doubled and reached Tk120 per kg a day after the ban on Indian’s onion exports.

Last year Indian banned onion exports on September 29, a move that led to a skyrocketing of prices of the key cooking ingredient to a historic high of as much as Tk300 per kilogram in Bangladesh. Later, India lifted the ban on March 15 this year. 

In such a situation, to keep the supply normal the government on Sunday withdrew the existing 5% import duty on onions in a bid to tackle the skyrocketing price of the key cooking ingredient.

Following the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Ministry of Finance took the initiative.

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