Saturday, 3 June, 2023

Tackling onion crisis

Tackling onion crisis

Onion is an indispensable kitchen item. The middle class and rich people use the staple for different purposes. For the poor, it is the only spice for cooking vegetables and pulse et cetera. A price rise in onions affects the poor most. And, that has happened multiplying their woes. Price of the essential item has doubled in a month. As per press reports, onion prices hit Tk. 80 per kg yesterday. But just a month ago, it was sold between Tk. 42-45 per kg. Price of the essential food item shows no sign of going down. The situation arose at a time when the consumers are already gasping amid mounting costs of other daily essentials. It has appeared to be a double whammy. What is the reason behind the unwanted situation?

Fall in onion production might be a reason. A report of this newspaper has also stated that onion output dropped significantly due to adverse weather and a reduction in land under onion cultivation. The government must come up with a sustainable solution. The Ministry of Agriculture has a greater responsibility in tackling the situation. It can solve the problem of domestic production by looking after the interests of the farmers and punishing the dishonest traders.  It should come up with incentives for the local onion farmers and ensure better prices so that both farmers and consumers gain. It must ensure that the peasants do not feel discouraged to grow onions in the next season.

Onions are a cool weather crop. They are not heat tolerant like other crops. It can be hard to pinpoint the exact temperatures needed for onion growth. The ideal temperature depends on which stage of their development they are in. Rising temperatures across the country pose a threat to onion farming. So, the Department of Agriculture Extension must do proper research so that it can invent heat-tolerant onion seeds. It should also impart training to the growers for necessary adaptation in this regard.  

However, in the context of present situation, onion imports may help the price go down and make the consumers happy. Farmers are not against its import if it is based on need, but the government must ensure that imports do not create an unequal competition and lower the domestic price by creating an artificial surplus.