SOLAN: Onion crop is harvested only once a year in Himachal Pradesh while at the same time farmers in Maharashtra have three crops during the same period.
This has made the state heavily dependent upon other states for meeting the requirement of onion, often causing the prices to go beyond the reach of common people.
Taking note of this, scientists of the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Nauni near here worked towards an appropriate alternative -- the cultivation of Kharif onion.
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Kharif onion cannot only save the farmers and the public from the sting of inflation but can also be a better option to increase the income of the farmers provided that the farmers adopt its cultivation techniques through the scientific method.
The Kharif onion crop reaches the market at a time when the public is reeling under the increasing prices of onions.
Deepa Sharma, a Vegetable Scientist at the University's College of Horticulture and Forestry in Neri in Hamirpur, has been working on a Rs 20.43 lakh project sanctioned two years ago by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in New Delhi, for popularising Kharif onion cultivation in Chamba district of the state.
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University scientists Rajveev Raina and Sanjeev Kumar Banyal are associated with the project as co-investigators.
Under the project 245 demonstrations on farm fields, 14 training programmes have been organised in the last two years, which have benefitted 362 farmers, the university said in a statement.
Keeping in view the growing demand and profit of kharif onion, the university wants to extend its cultivation to all suitable areas of the state.
The experiments conducted in the Chamba district have yielded encouraging results. The farmers can replant setts during the second week of August and sell green onion bulbs from the second week of October.
This crop is ready for harvesting from last week of November to the first week of December. The kharif crop is harvested at a time when the prices of onion are high and, therefore, the crop can be sold easily at Rs 50 per kg from the field itself.
The farmers can obtain a yield of six quintals from one quintal setts and earn up to Rs 30,000. Vice-Chancellor Parvinder Kaushal called upon the farming community to take kharif onion cultivation as an enterprise.