According to the sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office in Dhaka, farmers in 18 districts including Jamalpur, Rangpur, Magura, and Barisal will receive a kilogram of onion seeds and 30kg of fertilizers, both free of cost
The government is to provide seeds and fertilizers to 7,700 farmers across the country with the aim to increase local onion production and overcome the volatility in onion prices due to supply shortage.
According to the sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office in Dhaka, farmers in 18 districts including Jamalpur, Rangpur, Magura, and Barisal will receive a kilogram of onion seeds and 30kg of fertilizers, both free of cost.
They said that the initiative was taken to reduce dependency on onion import, and increase its domestic production.
The seeds and fertilizers that have been allotted to each of the 7,700 farmers are meant to be used in one bigha of land, the fertilizers being diammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MOP).
The sources also said that the seeds and fertilizers worth Tk1.32 crore would be distributed, while total cost (including the distribution cost) would be to the tune of Tk4.42 crore.
Chandi Das Kundu, director (field service wing) at the DAE, told Dhaka Tribune that after the distribution of seeds and fertilizers, they would get 11,532 tons of additional onion across 1,029 hectors of land in the 18 districts by late January or early February. He also said that onion was mostly produced in Faridpur, Pabna and Natore.
“Earlier there was no incentive for onion cultivation," said Mizanur Rahman, deputy director (monitoring, field service wing) at the DAE, adding that this year the Ministry of Agriculture approved an incentive program for onion cultivation along with the existing eight other crops, which included wheat, corn, mustard, peanut, moog lentil, and sunflower.
He also said onion cultivation usually goes on throughout the year.
"Last year, onion production stood at 23.30 lakh tons, which was cultivated across 211,890 hectares," he added.
This time, onion would be cultivated on another 7,000 hectors of land to meet the local demand and reduce the production deficit, he said further.
Officials concerned at the agriculture ministry said 7,700 farmers were selected through local government representatives across the 18 onion producing districts.
The farmers to get incentive were marginalized ones and who were affected by natural disaster and price fall, officials added.
The production of local onion stands at 23.30 lakh tons against the country's annual demand of 33 lakh tons, the deficit being met with imports.
Onion prices reached Tk150 per kg recently, the highest at which the produce has ever reached in the history of the country.
On September 29, the Indian government banned the export of onion with immediate effect until further order in order to improve their domestic availability of onion.
Before that, the Indian government had fixed minimum export price of onion to stop prices to soar in their domestic market.
On Sunday, consumer rights organization Conscious Consumer Society said that as a result of the unstable and increasing onion prices, an onion syndicate pocketed Tk3,179 crore from the sales of the produce in the retail markets in four months, while demanding that the onion prices be fixed at a reasonable level.