Onion growers face massive loss from lack of foreign demand

Onion 1
(FILE) Women are seen sorting onions for sale at a compound of a house in Upper Myanmar on 1 February 2015. Photo : Kyaukse (IPRD)

The onion growers face extreme losses on a bear market trend due to the lack of foreign demand amid the COVID-19 containment measures.
The prolonged price declines led some growers in Yesagyo Township, Magway Region to leave their onions unharvested as they cannot cover the labour wages and transportation charges. The stockpiles in the market have exacerbated with the fresh bulk supply of onions. The old onions fetched only K100-200 per viss (a viss equals 1.6 kg) in the wholesale market. In contrast, the prices of fresh onion stand at K200-400 per viss.
Those farmers who store the onions in high hopes of price gain are now experiencing financial hardships from the drastic price drop.
“Now, some farmers are leaving the onions in the farms unharvested. This occurrence is extremely rare. I hope we will not face this devastating situation in future,” said an onion grower from Yesagyo Township. “In early 2020, the onion fetched K1,200-1,300 per viss. The price drastically fell, and the growers cannot even cover the input cost,” said U Tun, a grower.
“The prevailing prices of onions are around K400-500 per viss in the retail market. The lower demand brings down the price to the lowest level,” said U Thar Paw, a warehouse owner. The prices of onions sharply dropped due to the bulk supply and the western border’s closure amid the coronavirus impacts. Earlier, onions were highly demanded by Bangladesh and India. Now, the trade with Bangladesh and India is halted to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, the price is on the downward trend. The onion growers and traders are experiencing market fallouts due to the COVID-19 impacts, said wholesale onion 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 price rise prompted the growers to expand the onion cultivation in 2020. 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. —GNLM (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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