India: Model for sustainable onion production

Even as Odisha has to frequently bear the brunt of onion scarcity and exorbitant rise in prices of the staple vegetable, a model for sustainable production and round-the-year availability is being laid by landless and small holding farmers in the interiors of Cuttack district.

A pilot project in two blocks of Badamba and Narsinghpur involving landless and marginal farmers in not only taking up onion cultivation in an organised manner but also establishing storage units for preservation of their produce and realising better returns is proving a path-breaker.

Under the initiative, supported by Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM), onion cultivation was taken up over 151 acre of land by forming around 35 farmer producers’ groups with a total of over 1700 small and marginal farmers.

They were encouraged to take up the vegetable cultivation as a second crop after the main paddy and were provided with seeds through the gram panchayat-level federations and Horticulture Department. Besides their own small holdings, they were also facilitated with lease of unutilised land in the villages through the federations for the purpose.

Producers’ groups are being assisted with setting up storage units to store their produce for better price realisation. As many as six storage units are being constructed with subsidies from OLM and Horticulture Mission and nominal contribution by farmers themselves.

Even though Odisha has surplus production of onion at 432,000 tonnes against requirement of 228,000 tonnes, it is always at the mercy of imports. Due to lack of storage facilities, farmers sell their entire produce to traders outside the State and then consumers are forced to suffer the scarcity situations as well as inflationary trends.

The initiative is set to be scaled up during the ensuing season by increasing cultivation to 200 acres. The farmers will be encouraged to cultivate onions in both rabi and kharif seasons and attain better returns.

Source: newindianexpress.com

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