An onion substitute ready for the market! | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 23, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:32 AM, November 23, 2019

An onion substitute ready for the market!

Agri Research Institute develops local variety of chive

It ranks as one of China’s favorite spices. It tastes like onion and garlic and shares similar nutritional values.

With onion prices taking every kitchen market in the country by storm, the good news is that the chive, a northern Chinese spice popular across the world, is now ready for the Bangladeshi market -- thanks to the efforts by scientists at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI).

Around 2017, a team of BARI scientists, led by senior scientific officer Dr Md Nur Alam Chowdhury, developed BARI Chive-1, a local, high-yield variant of the breed.

“Chive can become a substitute of onion and garlic in times of need. It’s used as a spice for soup, salad, and Chinese dishes across the world,” Dr Alam said.

According to 2017 data of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, annual onion production stands at 17.35 lakh tonnes, while the demand is 22 lakh tonnes. The shortage has to be imported. However, Dr Alam said the success of the BARI Chive can help offset this deficit.

“Its cultivation has started in several areas, including Bogura,” the official added. 

So far, it is being grown in hilly regions of Sylhet and Chattogram. Scientists at BARI are hoping that its cultivation spreads across all major onion farming regions, especially Faridpur, Pabna, Meherpur, Kushtia, Magura, Bagura, and Lalmonirhat. It can be grown in private gardens too.

Chive can be harvested four to five times a year. One of its key features is that it can be farmed throughout the year.

On its nutritional value, Dr Alam said it helps with digestion, and may be useful in preventing diseases. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2, Niacin, Carotene, and minerals. He said crop collection starts within 65-70 days of planting. Each hectare yields up to 10-12 tonnes. Its leaves, stalk, and flower are all used as spice.

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