Agriculture Minister Md. Abdur Razzaque on Tuesday inaugurated a model house for onion preservation and expressed hopes that its successful storage will address the instability and crisis of onions in the country.
“Although the country produces an excess amount of onions, one-third of it goes to waste, leading to onion shortage, abnormal prices, and the need for import from neighbouring India and sometimes India bans export. So we are emphasizing onion preservation to tackle these challenges,” he said.
The inauguration ceremony was held at Purba Bangram in Sathia Upazila, Pabna, where the Directorate of Agriculture Marketing built the model onion and garlic storage house.
The minister highlighted the perishable nature of onions, making them difficult to store and forcing farmers to sell them at low prices during the season. Towards the end of the season, importers, traders, and syndicates gain control of the onion market, said Razzaque.
To address this issue, the experimental onion storage facility was launched having the capacity to store onions for 4-5 months, he said.
The minister expressed optimism that this initiative would eliminate the onion shortage and potentially enable onion exports, reducing the need for imports.
Regarding the import of onions, Razzaque said that a decision would be made in the best interest of all stakeholders, including farmers, producers, and consumers.
He also mentioned that a letter has been sent to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources requesting consideration for subsidizing the electricity used in onion preservation model houses or the agricultural sector.
The onion and garlic storage model house features six exhaust fans in each room to ensure ventilation and prevent rotting. Each room, covering approximately 375 square feet, is equipped with a hygrometer to monitor temperature and humidity. The storage facility can hold 250-300 maunds (10-12 metric tons) of onions. The three-level storage structure is expected to last for at least 15-20 years.
These model houses are part of the “Modernization of Onion and Garlic Storage System and Develop-ment of Marketing Activities at the Farmer Level” project, scheduled from July 2021 to June 2026, with a budget of Tk 25 crore.
Three hundred houses will be built in 12 upazilas in seven districts, Pabna, Dhaka, Faridpur, Rajbari, Magura, Jhenaidah, Kushtia, and Rajshahi.
Eighty houses have already been constructed in the current year, each capable of storing 250-300 maunds of onion and garlic.
The country imported 6.65 lakh metric tons of onion in the fiscal year 2021-22.