Onion crop: Our farmers are capable

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Amidst many disappointments, the bumper yield of onions is positive news.

The production of onions in Bangladesh has been exceeding the target for a couple of years now, there’s no need of importing onions separately from India or any other country now.

This has proved that our farmers too can do it if provided with necessary assistance and support. We salute the onion farmers.

It’s learnt from Prothom Alo’s report that Bangladesh had put more stress on onion farming as the import of onion from India falls into uncertainty now and then.

Agricultural analysts are saying that the farmers have even leaned towards onion farming for getting good prices of onion in the past several years.

According to the department of agricultural extension data, 3.6 million (36 lakh) tonnes of onion were produced in the country in 2021-22 fiscal year.

In the previous year, country’s production of onion was 3.4 million (34 lakh) tonnes. Meanwhile, the production in 2019-20 fiscal year was 2.6 million (26 lakh) tonnes.

Officials of the department said, production of onion in the country exceeded the target indeed because of farmers’ interest. Production target in the current fiscal year has been set more than 3.6 million (36 lakh) plus tonnes.

The way onion has been cultivated, production can exceed the target this time as well. The government has decided to cut off import so that the farmers get fair price during this time.

However, alongside stopping import, other weaknesses of the market management have to be removed as well. Farmers will be interested in increasing the production even more, if they get a fair price.

A sort of stability is being noticed in the onion market of the country for there being sufficient production locally.  

According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data, a kilogram of local onion was selling at Tk 30 to 40 in the markets of Dhaka on Friday.

The price of imported onion was at Tk 40 to 45. During this time last year, the price of local onion was Tk 25 to 35.

Though the price has increased a bit compared to last year, this has to be considered logical taking the overall situation into consideration. If the price doesn’t go up a bit, farmer cost won’t be reimbursed.

To keep the market of any consumer item stable, there’s no alternative to increasing local production. We have a bitter experience regarding the import of onion.

When the production of onion was much lower than the demand, onions would be imported from India, Myanmar, Turkey and other countries to meet the demand.

When India suddenly stopped exporting onions in 2019 giving the excuse of low production, a serious volatility was caused in Bangladeshi market. It used to sell at Tk 200 to 250 per kilogram in the market.

Keeping that in the backdrop, the decision of not importing onion from India this time has to be considered appropriate indeed. Otherwise our farmers will have to count losses.

If we can meet the demand with local produce, farmers and consumers both will be benefitted.

It’s necessary to increase government assistance and support in order to retain this success of onion farming. At the same time, it has to be ensured that the farmers get fair prices.

Another matter of concern is that our farmland is decreasing gradually due to industrialisation and urbanisation.

So, if the production of any certain agricultural item goes up, there arises a concern of land, fixed for other items, shrinking up.

The government must remain alert so that not even a single inch of agricultural land is dispossessed.