Early harvest may hit onion production

ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman

11 December, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Harvesting of immature onion amid its skyrocketing price may affect total production of the essential cooking ingredient across the country.

Farmers are reportedly harvesting immature onion to sell them at much higher price in different kitchen markets in the country.

The demand for dry onion is extremely high in the current season which has prompted farmers to harvest the early variety of onion, mostly the leafy ones.

But according to the experts, harvesting of immature onion may lead to another trouble that is – the early harvest will see a shortfall of estimated production.

If onion is harvested after its maturity, farmers will reap the total benefit from their field. Due to early harvest, farmers will not get their desired production.

Earlier at a programme, Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said harvesting of immature onion amid the skyrocketing price will affect the gross production.

Onions are not matured yet, he said, adding that it is a great concern that farmers are selling those small bulbs. If this continues, onion production is likely to decrease, said the minister.

The government will take initiative to stop harvesting these immature onion bulbs, Razzaque hinted.

Onion prices have been on an upward trend since September, but the latest spell has put the common people, especially the low, middle and fixed income groups, in a dire state.

Onion prices jumped in Indian wholesale markets since mid-September, resulting in the hike of its cost of import to Bangladesh.

Cashing in on the issue, the syndicates of big traders and importers are bagging windfall profits though the domestic production of onion is soon to be available.

Though the government has taken different initiatives like market monitoring, import of onion from other countries and Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) sale at a subsidized price in the open markets in Dhaka, the price of onion is yet to decline.

Agro-economist Prof Golam Hafiz Kennedy told daily sun that the government should fix local demand and try to fulfill the demand locally after giving incentive on onion cultivation.

He also said if the farmers harvest immature onion, they will get lower production from their field.

In the long run, the country will face onion scarcity if harvesting of immature onion continues, he suggested.

Leafy onion plants were sold at between Tk120 and Tk140 per kg only while local old dry onion at Tk220 per kg and imported or quality onion at between Tk140-Tk150 per kg.

According to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of onion was Tk80 to Tk100 per kg on October 17, Tk90-Tk100 per kg on October 18, Tk100-Tk115 on October 26, Tk120-Tk130 on October 31, Tk125-Tk145 on November 12, Tk135-Tk155 on November 13, Tk150-Tk170 on November 14 and Tk180-Tk220 on November 15.

DAE’s field service wing Director Chandi Das Kundu said this year DAE fixed the target to produce 23.810 lakh metric tonnes of onion from 2.110 lakh hectors of land while the demand for onion is 33 lakh metric tonnes in the country.

The DAE official also said they are trying to increase the onion cultivation from 23.810 lakh metric tonnes to 25 lakh metric tonnes through introducing vertical extension of onion cultivation.

The onion production was 23.810 lakh metric tonnes against the demand of 33 lakh metric tonnes, according to the DAE.