Onion prices across southern Asia are skyrocketing, amid reports of India restricting exports of the vegetable due to crop shortages.
According to the New India Express, India has set a minimum price of US$850 per tonne for exports until the end of 2017. Traders suggest the market price of the crop is somewhere around US$700 per tonne.
"Only a few importers are willing to pay $850 per tonne. Exports have dropped substantially," Ajit Shah, an Indian exporter based in Mumbai, told the New India Express.
As recently as July, India was exporting onions for US$186 per tonne. Bangladesh, Malaysia and the UAE are all large importers of Indian onions. Mohammad Idris, a trader based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said onion prices have hit a record high of US$1.22 per kg this week, with no immediate sign of relief in sight.
"At the moment, there is nothing we can do but to wait," Idris told the New India Express. "We are hoping the price of onions will come down in India once their new harvest hits the markets."
The problem has been compounded by a similar crop shortage in China, while Pakistan is said to have placed an unofficial ban on exporting its crop.
"All the countries that produce onions have shortages. So even if you go to China to buy, you can't get as much as you want," said a Kuala Lumpur-based employee of a Malaysian importing firm.