While high onion prices have left consumers across the country teary-eyed ahead of the festive season of Ramadan, farmers in Faridpur are expecting a bumper output — in turn, a windfall profit — this year.
In fact, the farmers have set a target of producing 1,056 metric tonnes of onion seeds or “black gold” this year — enough to meet the demand for the kitchen staple in Bangladesh.
If the prices remain more or less the same throughout the year, then the farmers of the five upazilas of Faridapur, the second-biggest onion-producing district in the country, expect to mop up a whopping Tk 500 crore.
Onions have already changed the fortunes of many farmers in the district.
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Take for instance, the story of farmer couple Imtiaz Molla and Lovely of Ambikapur union, who claimed to have taken the biggest risk of their lives by sowing onion seeds on their two bighas of farm land, and that too, after taking a loan.
But it was a risk that paid off well. Last year, the couple earned Tk 1 crore by cultivating onions on 20 bighas of land. “Now, we own 30 bighas and have brought the entire farm land under onion cultivation,” the couple told UNB.
“If the weather remains favourable, we expect to produce 90 maund of onion seeds and eye a revenue of Tk 2 crore after selling them this year. In her leisure time, our only daughter also pitches in at our farm,” they said.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), a total of 1,711 hectares have been brought under onion cultivation in the five upazilas of the district.
“The farmers will harvest the onion seeds in a few weeks. If the weather remains suitable, 2.5 kg of seeds will be produced per decimal of land,” said sources at DAE. Of the total onion production annually, Faridpur alone accounts for 70 per cent of the output.
Nasir Hossain, another onion seed grower of Saltha upazila, said, “Many unemployed people are now involved in onion seed cultivation, thanks to the favourable weather in the entire district.”
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Deputy director of Faridpur DAE, Dr Hazrat Ali, said, “If everything goes well, the onion seed farmers will soon be laughing all the way to the bank. Authorities concerned also provide necessary advice to the farmers for better cultivation.”
Every year, Bangladesh witnesses onion crises. In October 2020, Bangladesh saw a record hike in onion prices after India banned its export.