In August-September 2021, winter onions and garlic were planted in Uzbekistan on a total area of 88.2 thousand hectares, which is 5.8 thousand hectares more than in the same period last year, EastFruit experts report, citing data from the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan. Planting of winter vegetables in Uzbekistan is carried out twice: in August-September and late autumn – in November-December.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan, the expected harvest of 2022 winter onion following planting in August-September 2021 and late autumn will amount to 2 million tons.
The export of onion from Uzbekistan has a clear seasonality. Since the harvesting of early onions in the country starts already in the second half of March and early April – depending on the region, it happens when last year stocks of the northern regions are decreasing, 3-months window of opportunities opens for the export of Uzbek onions. Such a long window of opportunity is explained by the fact that in the main sales markets of these products – in Russia and Belarus, the first lots of early onions appear on the market only at the end of June. Around the same time, stocks begin to deplete, and prices often rise quite rapidly.
According to the Customs Committee of Uzbekistan, during the nine months of 2021, Uzbekistan exported almost 200 thousand tons of onions, of which 157 thousand tons (79%) in the period from April to June. For the same period of 2020, the volume of onion exports from Uzbekistan in physical terms amounted to 188 thousand tons, of which 132 thousand tons (70%) were exported in April-June.
During the last few years, the yield of onion in Uzbekistan increased from 30 tons up to 50-60 tons per hectare mainly due to the use of resource-saving technologies, planting high-yielding varieties, modern irrigation technologies, and other agrotechnical measures. Accordingly, the cost of onion production has also decreased. At the beginning of June 2021, the average cost of producing 1 kg of onion in Uzbekistan was about 5 US cents.
Among resource-saving technologies, it is worth mentioning separately the introduction of drip irrigation technology when planting onions in order to save water resources. As a result, fertilizers are used more efficiently, and water savings are up to 40%. In addition, these measures should lead to higher yields.
However, EastFruit experts believe that, due to a number of reasons, increasing early onion production in Uzbekistan may be risky and it is worth thinking twice before betting on further expansion of winter onion production.
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