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Have onion exports been banned again by Tajikistan?

Unexpectedly development in the regional onion market of Central Asia has been brought to our attention recently. EastFruit analysts were trying to find out why onions are so cheap in Tajikistan, despite the fact that in neighboring Uzbekistan the market has revived, and export shipments are proceeding at a fairly high pace. Moreover, Uzbekistan actively exports onions even to EU countries, and the Polish market is flooded with onions from Uzbekistan.

At the same time, in Tajikistan, the wholesale price of onions remained below 10 US cents per kg for several weeks and only increased slightly by February 9, 2024 reaching 11 cents. It is still 42% less than in Uzbekistan. Moreover, wholesale prices for onions in Tajikistan are currently close to the long-term anti-record in recent years, and they are exactly 7 times lower than last year!

 

If last year prices for onions during this period were abnormally high, usually they are closer to the level of 20 US cents per kg during this period of the year. Also at this time, active exports of onions from Tajikistan’s storage facilities to neighboring countries and Russia begin.

Why are wholesale prices for onions in Tajikistan now so low?

To ask this question, we spoke with several Tajik wholesale companies who, on condition of anonymity, reported a verbal order from the Tajik government to disallow fresh onion exports. There are no official bans on exports of onions, but traders claim that at the moment it is not possible to ship onions from Tajikistan abroad.

They believe the authorities’ decision is driven by fears of that last year’s price records would repeat again, when wholesale onion prices nearly reached US $1 per kg, an unheard-of level for the poor population of Tajikistan, where onion consumption remains very high.

 According to our estimates, Tajikistan exports annually more than 100 thousand tons of onions, which makes it one of the top-25 largest global exporters of this product.

EastFruit

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