Peeling away the sad facts of onion farming

January, 18/2019 - 18:09

Nguyễn Thị Mì, a farmer in Kinh Môn District, the Northern province of Hải Dương, drove to despair as she recalled prices of onion.

In December on the lunar calendar (late January to early February), farmers start harvesting onions to sell before Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) holidays. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư
Viet Nam News

by Khoa Thư 

HẢI DƯƠNG — For onion farmers in northern Hải Dương Province’s Kinh Môn District, the past year has been enough to reduce them to tears.

“From VNĐ15,000, it gradually dropped to VNĐ9,000 per kilogram,” said farmer Nguyễn Thị Mì describing the value of onions.

Today’s prices make for even grimmer reading. One kilogramme of fresh onions sells for no more than VNĐ2,500 (11 US cents).

And not only are the prices so low, but bad weather has also seriously hampered production.

“Onions grew nicely at the begining of the season,” said Mì.

As this year’s onion crop comes to an end, farmers prepare for the next coming sticky rice crop on the same field. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư

“After a week of prolonged rains, it turned out like this, flattened in the mud. If it rains again, all remaining onions will be destroyed. This crop is such a failure.”

“It’s sad, so so sad,” was how Nguyễn Ngọc Bình, another farmer in Kinh Môn District described this year’s crop.

“I don’t know what it is like at the year end, but it is a sad year for farmers.

“Misty weather has spoiled the crop. We have lost some 30-40 per cent of the yield.”

This year’s crop has suffered because of low price and bad weather. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư

According to Nguyễn Thị Liễu, head of Kinh Môn District People’s Committee, the locality has 3,500ha of onions making it the largest in the northern region.

Farmers start cultivating onion in October, after the sticky rice crop.

In previous years, the average production was some 50,000 tonnes, offering farmers an annual income of around VNĐ1 trillion ($43 million).

However, the unstable market has been threatening their livelihoods. This year’s crop along with the price of onions is among the worst in recent times.

Nguyễn Xuân Hạ, head of Kinh Môn District Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said applying innovation and organic farming techniques can improve the situation.

He said: “The district authority has supplied farmers with Emina probiotics (developed by Việt Nam National University of Agriculture) to assist farmers plant onions organically.

“The district is striving to develop clean agricultural production to increase the quality and value of the products and increase farmers’ income.”

With these new methods, Kinh Môn farmers are hoping not shed a tears after the next onion crop. — VNS