Onion growers earning less despite price increase

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The high demand by foreign markets and a remarkable rise in price prompted the growers to expand the onion cultivation in 2020. Unfortunately, the market is getting worse amidst the COVID-19 negative consequences. 

Transport difficulties disrupt the onion supply chain and the price has risen in the retail market. The growers, however, do not earn much, onion growers stressed.
The price of onions jumped to K500-700 per viss (a viss equals 1.6 kilogrammes) in the retail market on the back of strong demand. The transport problem causes low supply and price hikes in the retail market. Nevertheless, the growers are earning less with a large stockpile. They receive only K200-250 per viss, said a grower from Ba Yint Naung wholesale market.
The closure of border posts resulted in the drastic price drop during the COVID-19 pandemic, making the growers suffer loss.
To tackle this problem, the Ministry of Commerce is implementing to set the basis price, according to the meeting result of the leading group on the protection of the farmer rights and enhancement of their benefits.
The onion growers have been facing extreme losses on a downward trend due to the lack of foreign demand. They cannot cover the cultivation cost as well as afford the harvesting cost for now.
Consequently, the prolonged price declines led some growers in Magway Region to leave their onions unharvested last year as they cannot cover the labour wages and transportation charges.
In early 2020, the onion fetched K1,200-1,300 per viss. Then, the price drastically fell in the COVID-19 crisis and the growers cannot even cover the input cost. At present, the price slightly rose in the retail market, said a trader.
The prices of onions sharply dropped owing to the closure of the western border following the coronavirus impacts. Additionally, the sluggish trade amid the current political conditions and shutdown of the restaurants, hotels, factories and donation events exacerbates the onion market.
Earlier, onions were highly demanded by Bangladesh and India. The trade with Bangladesh and India has been halted to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Having said that, the price remained low. The onion growers, as well as traders, have been experiencing market fallouts due to the COVID-19 impacts last year, said the onion wholesale dealer from Mandalay.
Next, Bangladesh’s demand for Myanmar’s onions coupled with high demand in the local market hiked up prices, soaring up to K4,000 per viss on 15 November 2019, according to the Mandalay commodity depot.
The high demand by foreign markets and a remarkable rise in price prompted the growers to expand the onion cultivation in 2020. Unfortunately, the market is getting worse amidst the COVID-19 negative consequences.
The prices of domestic onions exceeded K3,000 per viss in 2015, 2018, and 2019.
The onions are primarily grown in Mandalay, Magway and Yangon regions, Nay Pyi Taw and Shan State. – Ko Htet/GNLM

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