The government will provide all kinds of assistance, says the minister
In the wake of the repeated crisis of onions, Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque has directed the researchers, scientists and officials concerned to adopt a specific action plan for Bangladesh to become self-sufficient in onion production.
The minister came up with the directive when he virtually joined a central research review and program formulation workshop at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) on Wednesday.
"We’ve to be self-sufficient in onions, we’ll have to grow our own onions," he said.
There is an onion crisis in the country now, said the minister, adding that the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bari and other organizations concerned will have to come forward and finalize an action plan soon on how to deal with this crisis and how many days it will take to become self-sufficient by boosting production.
"If we want to be self-sufficient in onions, we’ve to produce summer-time onions," he said.
The government will provide all kinds of assistance to onion growers, including seeds, equipment and technology, said Razzaque.
“We’ve to discuss this with farmers and motivate them. The lists of farmers who will plant onions in any upazila next summer has to be prepared.”
The minister also directed the officials concerned to prepare the lists of farmers within the next one-two months, work out the demand for onion seeds and set the production target.
How onion crisis hit Bangladesh
Bangladesh saw a record hike in onion prices after India banned its export on September 29 last year.
Onions witnessed a 557.8% year-on-year rise last year, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) said. The record jump was made in only two months after the Indian export ban. Each kg of the bulb cost about Tk30 before the ban.
According to TCB data, the price of local onion increased by 542.86% while that of imported one by 572.73% in November last year compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.
A market analysis showed that the price hike, which stemmed from the ban India slapped on the export, is higher than the TCB estimate.
Besides, onion prices also saw abnormal hike in local markets a day after the Indian government restricted the export of all varieties of onion on September I6 this year.
Bangladesh’s annual demand
According to the Commerce Ministry, the annual demand for onion in Bangladesh ranges between 2.2 and 2.5 million tons.
Although the country’s own annual production has risen, so has the amount imported over the last decade.
The Commerce Ministry data shows the amount imported was hardly 0.4 million tons in FY2009, but had touched up to 1.1 million tons in recent years.