Sri Lanka: Target to produce 150,000 mt onion by 2015

Correct and recommended post harvest technology should be adopted in onion cultivation. If not, it would take a long time for the country to become self-sufficient in onions, according to agro engineering experts.

It is the aim of the government to produce a minimum of 150,000 mt of onions by 2015. Currently, the annual production is about 80,000 metric tons.

The annual local requirement of big onions is between 200,000 and 220,000 metric tons.

The Anuradhapura Post Harvest Technology's senior research officer (agro engineering) Dr Champathi Gunatilake said that as a result of farmers not following post harvest technology, big onions would go out of stocks in the market within about three months.

"This trend leads to importing big onions. Unfortunately, our farmers do not use the correct storage techniques.

We have found that the majority of farmers never consider following post harvest technology," Dr Champathi said. He pointed out that since chilling storage was costly, the high temperature storage methodology could be easily followed in storing the onions for over three months before marketing in bulks.

He said the Anuradhapura IPHT is prepared to educate farmers in the prior and post harvest technology on big onions and offer technical advice to build low cost big onion stores suitable to local conditions, free of charge.

The government has extended a subsidy scheme to help farmers to build domestic storage facilities, sufficient to store 10 - 12 metric tons of big onions at a cost of around Rs 75,000.

It is planned to produce 40,000 mt of seed onions for distribution during the 2013 Yala season. The target for cultivation of big onions in the Yala season is around 25,000 acres.

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