In Birampur upazila, onions were cultivated on 70 hectares of land this year, said sources at the Birampur upazila Agriculture Office
Farmers in Hakimpur, Birampur, and Nawabganj upazilas of Dinajpur district are gradually turning away from onion farming after repeated losses over the last few years.
Talking to farmers in the region, it was found that they are not getting a fair price for their produce due to cheaper imported Indian onions. Lack of government incentives for cultivation or preservation of local onions is also a reason for their reluctance in cultivating onions.
According to Agriculture Office sources in Hakimpur upazila, onion farming in the upazila has gone down significantly over the last five years. In 2014, onions occupied 28 hectares of land, which went down to 20 hectares in 2017. The downward trend continued with nine hectares of onion farming in 2018, and only 2 hectares this year.
Sources at the Agriculture Office in Nawabganj upazila also provided similar data with 244 hectares of onion cultivation in 2014 compared to only 35 hectares of cultivation in 2018.
In Birampur upazila, onions were cultivated on 70 hectares of land this year, said sources at the Birampur upazila Agriculture Office.
Lutfur Rahman, a farmer in Hakimpur upazila, said: "We cultivate onions to make some profit. It costs around Tk22,000 to grow onions on one bigha of land but we do not get more than Tk12,000 selling the produce.
"Seed prices are also going up every year and there are other materials and expenditure to consider in the farming process. If we cannot even get back our investment, let alone profit, then there is no point in doing the farming."
Abdul Kuddus and Samsul Haque from Birampur and Nawabganj upazilas respectively, laid out similar perspectives about onion cultivation in the region.
Abdul Kuddus from Birampur upazila said: "Onion imports from India are closed now. But the situation was different earlier. After months of hard work, when we were ready to harvest, Indian onions arrived. As a result we did not get a fair price for our product. That is why so many farmers in this area have turned away from onion farming. The government should fix the price for our local variety."
Samsul Haque from Nawabganj upazila said: "We have cold storage to preserve potatoes but we don't have any such thing for onions. If we had proper storage and incentives from government for the cultivation, then farmers would have been more enthusiastic about the farming."
Birampur Upazila Agriculture Officer Nikson Chandra pal said: "Though a huge amount of onions was cultivated in previous years, most farmers eventually left the business here after suffering hefty losses. Volatility in market prices of onions, and imports also, played major roles in the decline in onion farming."
Towhidul Islam, deputy director of the Dinajpur Department of Agriculture Extension, said: "We have become sufficient in producing grain crops but it is not the case for onions which is a spice category crop. The incentives government provided in onion farming were not enough and we are taking steps to increase incentives. Also, the government has plans to set up cold storages in the area to boost preservation."