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India second in world onion production

India has varying climatic conditions and provides an opportunity for growing a large number of horticulture crops including vegetables. The onion is an important vegetable and has been grown in almost all the parts of India for thousands of years. The onions are regarded as a highly export oriented crop and earn valuable foreign exchange for the country. Though India produces a significant quantity of onions it is not regular and sufficient enough to meet the demands for both domestic requirement and exports.

Amongst the onion producing countries in the world India ranks second in area and production, the first being China. The highest productivity of onion in world is of Korea Rep (67.25 MT/ha) followed by USA (53.91 MT/ha), Spain (52.06 MT/ha) and Japan (47.55 MT/ha). India being a second major onion producing country in the world has a productivity of 10.16 MT/ha only. (FAO 2008)

Maharashtra is the leading onion producing state in India. The other major states producing onions are Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka. In India per hectare yield is highest in Maharashtra (21.55 MT/ha) followed by Gujarat (21.24 MT/ha), Haryana (20.37 MT/ha) and Rajasthan (15.24 MT/ha). Productivity of onion shows variable trends as the crop is susceptible to various weather variations. Yield obtained in India with those obtained in developed countries show that there is a wide gap between the optimum yield of the onion crop in the country and the yields actually obtained by the farmers.

Two to three crops of onions are now taken in various parts of the country. Fresh onion starts coming in the market from July end from Tirpur in Tamilnadu and continues up to April-May in other parts. In Andhra Pradesh, August, September and October and also in March-April. In Karnataka also there are two crops as that of Andhra Pradesh.  In Maharashtra fresh onion starts coming in market in September-October (Satara). It continues from October to April-May in Nasik, Ahmednagar and some parts of Pune districts. Gujarat produces three crops i.e. kharif (November-January) in Bhavnagar late kharif (February-March) and rabi (April) in Rajkot, Junagarh and Jamnagar. Kharif onion production, which was not common in northern pocket, is however, now being taken up in some pockets of Rajasthan (Alwar, Bharatpur and Ajmer), Haryana (Rewari, Mewat and Gurgaon districts) and Punjab (Patiala) thereby making Maharashtra onion surplus for export.  In Northern, Eastern and Central parts, rabi onion is commonly cultivated which is available in April-May (Table-3). Multiplier onion is grown in Tamilnadu. Orissa also produces multiplier onion on small scale. The quality of multiplier onion produced in Orissa is better. Small pickling onion is produced in Andhra Pradesh near Mydukur in Cuddapah district in kharif and in Karnataka near Chickballapur and Bangalore in all the three seasons exclusively for export. The quality of Karnataka small onion is better in view of mild climate which prevails almost round the year there.

India has sufficient R & D backup in terms of development of improved varieties, standardization of pre and post harvest technology and seed production technology. The technologies developed by NHRDF, NRCOG, IIHR, IARI and various State Agricultural Universities are being disseminated to the farmers by NHRDF and State Dept. of Agriculture, but to achieve the goal of self sufficiency, several genuine constraints have been identified and the gap is required to be bridged for ensuring onion availability round the year.
There is no doubt production and productivity have increased substantially over the past 20 years; it is still quite low when compared to the countries like Netherlands, USA, China & Korea Republic.

Quite often due to unfavourable weather conditions, diseases like purple blotch, stemphylium blight, colletotrichum blight and thrips, insect pest are attacking the standing onion crop and a major damage in production and quality is experienced. These diseases and insect pests are to be controlled by a campaign on mass plant protection, so as to restrict the pathogens/pests for entering into the unsprayed field. The education and training on diseases and insect pests management are to be imparted to the farmers and Agriculture Department Officers for tackling such situations on large scale.

National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation

Publication date: 9/29/2010
Author: Nichola Watson


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