In the wake of the repeated crisis of onions, Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque on Wednesday 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 programme 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, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and other organisations concerned will have to come forward and finalise an action plan soon on how to deal with this crisis and how many days it will take to become self-sufficient by boosting its 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 1-2 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 percent year-on-year rise last year, TCB said. The record jump was made in only two months after the Indian export ban. Each kg of the bulb cost about Tk 30 before the ban.
According to TCB data, the price of local onion increased by 542.86 percent 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 SeptemberI6 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 tonnes. 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 FY09, but had touched up to 1.1 million tons in recent years.