BD can be self-sufficient in onion production within 6yrs
Published: 07:47 PM, 20 September 2020 Updated: 02:54 PM, 26 September 2020
File Photo; collected
Onion is a daily commodity in Bangladesh. Almost in every curry onion is used as a common spice. But every year tension arises in onion market. What is the reason behind it?
Sometimes, onion’s price reached at Tk 300 per kg and sometimes people can purchase 4kg for Tk 100. The matter happens as the country depends on imports for 43 percent of its total consumption of onion. Our neighbor country India is the principal exporter here. So, when India suspends export it affects whole Bangladesh so badly.
According to the Agriculture Department of Bangladesh, the demand for onions in the country is about 30 lakh tons. This year, the country has produced 25 lakh 57 thousand tons of onions. On average, 25-30 percent of it is lost due to various reasons. As a result, the net production of onion in the country stood at 18 to 19 lakh tons.
The remaining 11 lakh tons of onions have to be imported to meet the demand of the country's cooks. Apart from India, onions are also imported to Bangladesh from Myanmar, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and China. However, the amount is very low. Because Indian onions reach the country faster than these countries so the quality remains better. But the question is, why Bangladesh is not self-sufficient in onion production despite being the main agricultural country? However, experts think that it is possible to meet the demand of onion completely after six years of hard work.
Meanwhile, the government has emphasized on research to increase the production of spices in the country. So the government has taken up a separate project for research to increase the production of onion. This is 'Strengthening the research of Bangladesh spice type crop'. The project director Dr. Shailendranath Majumdar looked after onion cultivation at the Spice Research Center.
Dr. Shailendranath Majumder said, "It is possible for us to be self-sufficient in onion production. Farmers are also interested. But there are some problems. In order to be self-sufficient in onion production, these problems have to be solved first. There are several reasons behind this; For example, lack of seeds, lack of integrated cultivation, price fluctuations, lack of conservation system, not using char area and not paying attention to summer onions.”
How Bangladesh can be self-sufficient in onion production?
In onion cultivation, the shortage of seeds, conservation measures, pricing, etc. may not fill the gap overnight. However, experts believe that the right policies, plans and initiatives can reduce the onion shortage to zero in five-six years.
There is a lack of good and improved seeds of onion for the farmers of Bangladesh. Dr. Shailendranath Majumder said, "Our country needs 1,100 tons of onion seeds every year. Of this, five-six tons are produced by the government and 50-60 tons by privately. The rest is produced by farmers.”
In order to increase onion production, production and storage of these seeds should also be increased. Last year, per mound was sold for one lakh taka; but this year it is not available even with two lakh taka. This is likely to have an impact on next year’s production.
With the availability of onion seeds, emphasis should be laid on integrated cultivation. Onions can be grown with other crops, such as in sugarcane fields, inside maize, ginger, turmeric. Kachumukhi can be cultivated in summer fields. If cultivated in this way, additional land will not be required to meet the demand of 11 lakh tons of onion deficit.
Dr. Shailendranath said that another major problem in increasing onion cultivation is the fluctuation of its price. Sometimes the farmers face losses by cultivating. Sometimes he sells seed onions due to extra price. Most farmers sold their onion seeds in October due to rising prices last year. As a result, many farmers are not able to find seeds this year. Therefore, a minimum and maximum price of onion should be fixed.
The climate in Bangladesh is generally conducive to winter onion production, now new varieties of onions can be produced in summer but they cannot be stored for long. Besides, onions get damaged due to accumulation of water in the land due to rains.
Although it is important to preserve this perishable product, there is a lack of adequate cold storage for onions in Bangladesh, said Bangladesh Agricultural University Professor Dr. Mohammad Zahiruddin.
Potatoes that are stored in cold storage. Onions cannot be stored there. Because onion storage requires 60 percent humidity in cold storage, the temperature will be 8 degrees to 12 degrees Celsius. This level varies with cold storage of potatoes. Rajshahi farmer Aslam Hossain said the onion was spoiled. When it rains a little, the water in the land rises and rots. Besides, lack of storage space makes a huge loss.
Researchers say there are vast chars in Bangladesh. If those lands can be utilized for onion production, then it is possible to produce the entire 10-lakh tons of onion on demand. But that is why the problems of onion production have to be solved. Only then the farmers will be interested in onion cultivation.
The Spice Research Center of the Agricultural Research Institute of Bangladesh has so far released six varieties of onions. Of these, three varieties are summer onions. Among them, researchers are emphasizing on Bari-5 the most. These onions are harvested in March-June-July or August-November. Experts believe that if these summer onions are cultivated, it can supply a large part of the demand.