Onion is the head of everything: why did the countries of Central Asia simultaneously ban the export of onions?
The Republics of Central Asia simultaneously suspended the export of onions. The ban was introduced by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The correspondent of MIR 24 Elena Kurshuk understood the situation.
The day onions became smuggled. 23 trucks were detained at the border of Kazakhstan and Russia. The drivers were warned, and the goods were sent back to Astana. The ban on the export of onions in Kazakhstan was introduced at the end of January. It would seem that the loss is not great for Russia, which itself grows almost a million tons annually.
Onion prices in Russia are still stable. In the capital, a kilogram will cost almost 46 rubles. In Vladikavkaz, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, you won’t have to pay more than 50. A little more expensive in Kaliningrad – 56 rubles. In St. Petersburg, if you search well, there is onion and for 30. However, imported has already risen in price.
Russia is not sunny Azerbaijan. Stocks of most vegetables run out at the end of winter. A new crop has to wait until mid-summer, and traditionally in the spring Russia buys vegetables from other countries. The list includes China, Turkey, Azerbaijan. The most important exporter is Egypt, more than half of the deliveries are from there. In second place is Uzbekistan – more than 13%. But the countries of Central Asia decided to play it safe – to save onions for themselves . In Central Asia, onions are the head of everything. It is eaten here a lot and often.
“In January, onions in Kazakhstan rose in price by 5%, which means that the beshbarmak dish will also cost more for residents of the country. To avoid a shortage of this vegetable, the state imposed a ban on its export,” said Kirill Potemkin, correspondent for MIR 24 in Kazakhstan.
The reason for the tough decision is freezing. The bow just froze. “We proceed from the fact that we just need to provide ourselves with high-quality onions and so that they do not rise to the price that would be super speculative,” said Minister of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan Serik Zhumangarin.
Approximately 150,000 tons of onions remain in Kazakhstan, with a monthly domestic demand of more than 30, that is, there will be enough until the early harvest in June. But for sale, alas, no!
“To prepare kurutoba, this is the national dish of Tajiks, you will need three pieces of onion for one serving. It must be cut into half rings. If a week ago a kilogram cost 6 somoni, which is 41 rubles, today a kilo will cost 10 somoni, which is almost 70 Russian rubles. To stabilize the situation, the country decided to temporarily ban the export of onions,” said MIR 24 correspondent from Tajikistan Zarina Abdunazarova.
In Tajikistan, they would be happy to help their northern neighbors with onion, but they themselves do not have enough. That is why domestic prices are rising. Exports were blocked day by day with Kazakhstan. The consequences are likely to be felt for the economy: the country sold up to 66,000 tons a year.
Onions in Asia are stored, as a rule, in open areas. There, the temperature is like in a home refrigerator: from zero to plus five – comfortable for vegetables. But at the beginning of 2023, an extensive anticyclone brought abnormal frosts, but weather forecasters warned.
“In Tashkent, the temperature dropped to minus 19 degrees, in Dushanbe – to minus 16. On average, in Uzbekistan, January 2023 closed the top three among the coldest Januarys in the 21st century,” said Mikhail Leus, leading specialist of the Phobos weather center. .
No one in Uzbekistan was ready for such disadvantages. They stopped the export of onions on the first day of the new year. The internal demand of Uzbekistan for onions until spring is more than 340 thousand tons, and only 320 are available.
“Since the beginning of the year, this vegetable has doubled in price. If earlier it was sold for about 25 rubles, now it is 50, you can buy onions a little cheaper at the wholesale market, where they sell them for about seven rubles cheaper,” said Aida Amatbekova, correspondent of MIR 24 from Kyrgyzstan.
The turnover of each point is more than 30 bags per day. “Onion is necessary, we use it every day, it is like salt, like sugar, so it’s hard for us pensioners,” said the pensioner. The country’s government promised: speculation will not be allowed.
“Exports to Pakistan have increased. Taking advantage of such cases, people raise prices for goods that are exported,” said Daniyar Zhanuzakov, head of the food security department of the Ministry of Agriculture of Kyrgyzstan.
“Onions are, as economists say, an inelastic commodity; in the short run, the demand for onions is inelastic. What does it mean? If you eat a lot of onions, it is important for you, and suddenly it is not there, then you have nothing to replace it with. That’s how in India, China, the Philippines, onions are one of the basics for the kitchen. There is onion there, but it is expensive,” said economist Dmitry Prokofiev.
Not just expensive, but fabulous. The country was also covered with cold. So in Manila they are already asking for 800 pesos per kilogram, which is more than a thousand rubles, seven times more expensive than in December. Onions in the Philippines are already the “new gold”. You can pay with them in stores, and the best gift for a wedding is a net of onion.
In Russia, onions, albeit a little, are added by housewives to almost every dish. This is the cheapest source of vitamins at the end of winter. According to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, every Russian should eat about a kilogram of onions per month, so there is a demand. But will there be an offer?