JUMLA, Dec 20: Onion is easily available in the district headquarters Khalanga bazaar and various market places in rural parts. It is neither Nepali nor the onion imported from China. However, the price is not normal. According to local businessmen, onion is sold at Rs. 250 to 300 a kilogram. Following India’s ban on onion export, Nepal has been importing it from its northern neighbor China.
According to the locals, it is the record high price for onion in the district. Earlier, the maximum price was Rs 80 per kilo. If it was produced by local farmers, it used to be sold at Rs 50. A local Birkha Bahadur Budha said, “We are now dependent on the foreign countries even for the vegetables like onion. It’s the result of not encouraging farmers for commercial farming.”
According to local grocer Setu Buda, it is their compulsion to sell onion at a high price as its purchasing price has soared up recently.
Senior vice-chairperson of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jumla Chapter Puru Chandra Devkota said that it is an irony that Nepal has been importing Chinese and Indian onion despite being an agricultural country. He stressed the need for encouraging the farmers for commercial onion farming. “Although we have prospects of onion farming, we are failing to attract the farmers. At the same time, concerned authorities seem to be unaware of creating an atmosphere to attract investments in this sector,” Devkota grumbled.
Chief at District Agriculture Development Office Balak Ram Devkota said that a target has been set to produce 300 metric tons of onion in 30 hectares in the current fiscal year. “We will be able to export onion to other districts in a few years. For that, we have programs to provide the farmers with onion seed, nursery, agricultural tools, and technical education.”
Chandandanth municipality, Tatopani rural municipality and Sinja valley have been considered suitable for onion farming in the district. 109 hectares of land has been used for onion production. According to the District Agriculture Development Office, a total of 166 metric tons of onion is produced which addressed the need of the district only for six months. However, produced onion can’t be preserved properly due to the lack of cold storage.
Onion can be produced in all eight local levels of the district. Considering the rising price of onion, the people from the district are now demanding the government for some sort of incentive packages for the farmers so that they would be able to increase their productivity.