Onion-rich Karnataka depends on other states for the bulb

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Bangalore, Sept 18, 2013: As tears are shed over the high prices of onion, one irony hits the State hard. Karnataka is the second largest producer of the crop in the country, yet it depends on other states for the supply of the bulb for most part of the year.

Consider this. The State accounts for 17 per cent of the total production of onion in India. However, 85 per cent of the State’s total production is harvested in October-November.

The crop is sown during the kharif season, particularly in the districts of Chitradurga, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Bijapur, Belgaum and Gadag, and harvested during October-November. It is a double whammy. Due to the huge quantum of arrivals, farmers get a low price for the produce and low preservability results with onions perishing in one month.

As a result, Karnataka has to depend on Maharashtra for most of its onion demand for most part of the year (February to September). In Maharashtra, onion is harvested during summer and the yield can be preserved for a much longer period (because of the dry season). Horticulture department Principal Secretary M K Shankarlinge Gowda said his department was exploring the possibility whether onion harvesting in the State can be more evenly spread out.

Horticulture Director D L Maheswar said most of the onion is sown in the State in July, as the bulb is grown in rain-dependent areas. He said the State government will propose to the Centre to launch an integrated onion production and post-harvest management mission to increase the yield. The mission includes replacing the existing varieties with hybrids like Arka Kirthiman-F1, Arka Lalima-F1, Arka Kalyan and Arka Niketan.

Other initiatives include minimisation of post-harvest losses, better supply chain and storage facilities.

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