Magura onion farmers in tears as prices plummet

Strange as it may seem, but a bumper harvest has left many onion farmers in Magura in tears. Forget profit, they are struggling to recover even their production cost this year.

Falling prices of the kitchen staple across Bangladesh are forcing these poor farmers to go for distress sales in the absence of any warehousing option that helps prevent a price collapse in case of a bumper yield.

An essential part of the diets of millions of Bangladeshis, rich and poor, onions add flavour and texture to every meal. Besides, the pungent bulb is a rich source of key daily nutrients.

Every year, Bangladesh witnesses onion crises. However, this year, farmers in Magura are facing a problem of plenty — basically more supplies and less demand.

Right from seed sowing to spraying fertilisers and pesticides, the per hectare production cost of onions comes to around Tk 1,200-1,300. This includes labour cost though.

But the current wholesale onion prices in Bangladesh is Tk 600 to 650 per mound, according to these farmers.

“I spent Tk 60-70 thousand on production of onions. But I will get only Tk 30-35 thousand by selling the produce at the current market price,” says Sudhir Kumar Biswas, a farmer of Goaldah village in Sreepur upazila.

Shakhawat Khandaker, another farmer from Sarangdia village of the upazila, says that it costs them Tk 900 to Tk 1,000 to produce one mound of onion.

“Then there are marketing costs too. But we are being forced to sell onions in the market at Tk 600-650 per mound, thus counting the losses,” he says.

According to the district agriculture extension department (DAE), the pungent bulb is cultivated across 315 hectares of land in Sreepur upazila every year. The yield per hectare is 15 metric tonnes while the total yield is 6,725 metric tonnes.

“This year, there has already been a bumper harvest. Varities like Lal Teer King, Lal Teer Hybrid and Bari Onion-1 have been planted across the upazila,” an official says.

Last year, onions were planted across 5,300 hectares of land.

Meanwhile, Salma Jahan Nipa, the upazila agriculture officer, says that the target is to bring 6,380 hectares of land in the district under onion cultivation this season.

“The agriculture department officers have been regularly advising the onion growers at the field level,” she says.

Source: United News of Bangladesh