Bulb onion farmers concerned at decision to lift ban

A bulb onion producer has challenged the Government to prove to farmers its policy decisions even in unforeseen circumstances and challenging times.

“We think you haven't proven the farmers yet because the ban was only in force for three months (August - November) and in the peak of the El Nino drought,” says Toppy Sundu from Gembolg, the home of bulb onions in the country.

“Is the decision made in favor of the disadvantaged rural population whose livelihoods depend entirely on agriculture or in the interest of few minority consumers in towns and cities who are working class and business people?” Sundu asked.

He said the Agriculture Ministry’s recent decision to relax the ban on some of the vegetables including bulb onion was a concern for bulb onion farmers, especially when they were still trying to come to terms with increasing production right in the middle of the nationwide drought.

Sundu added: “Bulb onion is not a staple food but rather a supplement or flavor to other foods and so the less supply should not be a concern to the government.”

He said the government should look at the big things affecting the lives of people in the country.

“Recently a bit of rain has allowed farmers to go into big bulb onion nursery where individual farmers sow 100-200 grams of bulb onions, the equivalent of 5600kg.

“You multiply that by a minimum number of famers - say 500; just imagine how many tonnes we could make (2 800 tones) for one cropping period?”

Sundu said the farmers understand that there is a big demand and low supply.

“But if you look at it closely, price drive farmers to increase supply and on the other hand price will drop as supply increase until it stabilizes.” 

Seniorl Anzu