Why is the price of onions going up in Tajikistan?

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An average price for one kilogram of onions at Dushanbe’s bazaars has increased from 2.50 somonis in January 2022 to 7.50 somonis. Experts say prices can be brought down only by a new crop, which will be available in three months.


According to data from the Agency for Statistics under the President of Tajikistan, more than 672,000 of onions were produced in the country last year, which is 6.6 percent fewer than in 2021.


Last year, onion prices rose throughout the summer and autumn.


Officials from the Export Development Agency say the price hike is not related to exports. According to them, onion exports last year decreased by 18,000 compared to 2021.


“Onion exports did not increase last year and the main reason for the rise in onion prices is unfavorable weather conditions,” they said in August last year.


Archive photo / Asia-Plus


Meanwhile, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), income from onion sales over the first six months of last year increased by 36 percent compared to the same period of 2021. In January-June 2021, income from onion sales amounted to 4.7 million U.S. dollars, while over the first six months of last year, income from onion sales increased to 6.6 million U.S. dollars.


Experts say several factors, and first all the natural ones, have contributed to the rise in onion prices in the country.


Tajik farmer Bakhtiyor Qosimov, who had served as agronomist with a MoA for many years, notes that in many countries of the world, onion yields fell sharply last year.


As a result, onions have risen in price all over the world and some counties have suspended onions exports in order to stabilize prices for it.


The Interdepartmental Commission of Kazakhstan on Foreign Trade Policy and Participation in Economic Organizations has decided to ban the export of onions for three months. The decision was made to prevent the mass export of onions from Kazakhstan and stabilize onion prices, according to the Kazinform International News Agency.


The press service of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture has noted that the rush demand of third countries for Kazakh onions is associated with natural disasters in Pakistan, one of the largest onion producers in Asia and globally. “Floods in Pakistan caused a global increase in prices for onions, including in the market of Kazakhstan. There is additional pressure on prices from severe frosts in the southern regions of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where a large part of the harvest was damaged. The main onion producers are now actively importing Kazakh onions,” the ministry explained.


According to Kazakhstan’s Bureau for National Statistics, the onion harvest in the country last year amounted to 1.1 million tons, while the annual domestic consumption in the country is about 315,000 tons, i.e. almost 3.5 times less.


The confirmed stocks of onions in Kazakhstan amount to 152 400 tons, or only 14% of the total volume of last year’s harvest. This is enough until the next harvest, so the export restrictions reportedly eliminate the risks of exporting all the remaining onions from Kazakhstan.


Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s online news agency Daryo noted on January 19 that the abnormal cold across Uzbekistan has led to the damage of an enormous part of the onion stocks. Wholesale prices for fresh vegetables in Uzbekistan sharply increased just a few days after it got anomalously cold there – starting from January 10, 2023. Prices for onions reportedly increased the most.


According to EastFruit price monitoring, the average wholesale price for onions increased from 5,000 soums (UZS) on January 6 to UZS8,000 on January 20 (60-percent increase).


Source: Asia-Plus