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High costs of seed, inputs worry onion farmers

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 28 November, 2022 12:00 AM
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High costs of seed, inputs worry onion farmers

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A rise in seed, fertilizer, and other input costs is causing farmers to worry about good returns on onion cultivation.

Inputs like ploughs, seeds, transportation, labour, and fertilizers have become costlier, which makes farming onions difficult.

Farmers are struggling to manage onion input costs this year after facing higher input costs in the last Aman season. Despite investing additional funds in the production of the bulb, farmers cannot make a profit this year due to the lower onion price compared to last year. The price of onion seed has also been escalating as the dollar exchange rate has increased.

Farmer Faruk Ahmed from Kumarkhali in Kushtia said that diesel and fertilizer prices have increased in the country, which has raised the cost of agri products.

"We have to bear the burden of higher costs since August this year, as land preparation costs, irrigation costs, harvesting costs, threshing costs, and wages of labour have increased. The price of seeds has also increased," he said.

Locally produced onion seed prices increased to Tk 2,500-3,000 per kg from Tk 1,500 per kg in a year, Lal Teer king onion seed prices increased to Tk 13,000 per kg from Tk 8,500 per kg in a year, and Lat Teer hybrid onion seed prices increased from Tk 20,000 to Tk 25,000.

Over the past year, the price of ACI king onion seed has increased to Tk 9,000 per kg from Tk 5,000 per kg, and the price of local Taherpuri onion seed has jumped to Tk 3,200 per kg.

Dr Jahangir Alam Khan, agro economist and researcher, told the Daily Sun that most seed demand is met through imports, while higher dollar prices increased seed prices.

"The government should monitor seed prices across the country to prevent private companies from charging farmers more for seed," he said, adding that if this persists, farmers will stop cultivating onions.

Rising input costs will increase crop production costs and agricultural food prices, he noted.

 As a result of high seed prices, local farmers cultivated onions on vast areas lands in 2022 and harvested early variety onions (Murikata). They were able to sell the onions at only Tk 700-1,200 per mound (40kg) during harvest and Tk 1,100-1,200 per mound six months later.

Onion prices in 2021 were Tk 1,100 per mound during harvest, and Tk 2,700 to 3,000 per mound during lean times.

Farmer Shamsuddin from Kushtia told Daily Sun that last year he cultivated onion on 4 bighas of land but this year he will cultivate onion on 1.5 bighas of land due to higher input cost.

Last season, the country produced 36.41 lakh tonnes of onions, an increase of 2.79 lakh tonnes over the previous season.