BENGALURU: Onion farmers will probably cry tears of joy over a new invention that mechanically takes some work off their hands.An electricity-operated machine developed by the Indian Institute of Horticulture and Research (IIHR) drastically reduces the amount of time farmers need to de-top onions after harvest.When the onion crop is ready for harvest, the green, leafy tops begin to turn yellow and drop at a point just above the bulb, a process known as neck fall.
The tops are cured for 8-10 days and then the onions are manually pulled up by farmers. After this, women would start cutting, separating the leafy part from the bulbs.“De-topping is one of the unique operations in cultivation of onion crop and it is tedious, laborious and a time-consuming operation that demands a lot of labour. Farmers have to spend 8-10 hours a day to have the onion de-topped of 800 kg. But with a power-operated onion de-topper, a farmer can have 1.5 tonnes of onions de-topped per hour,” said Dr A Carolin Rathina Kumari, Principal Scientist, Division Post Technology Harvest and Agricultural Engineering.
The machine consists of a feed conveyor for feeding the cured onion crop, de-topping rollers for shearing the leaves, separate collection chutes for the de-topped onion bulbs and leaves, main frame, power and power transmission system.
Dr Carolin said, “We worked for four years to develop the machine and the onion de-topper was powered by a three phase, 2 hp, 900 rpm electrical motor with necessary speed reduction gear box. The performance parameters of the onion de-topper were found to be 98% de-topping efficiency.”
The machine was piloted in districts like Hubballi, Mandya, and Chikballapur, where it worked very well.
Dr Carolin said that the state government was impressed by the machine and has procured five machines to present to farmers under the Sujala 3 scheme. The machine has also been evaluated by experts from across the country and will be be patented. Each machine costs Rs 5 lakh, excluding GST and transportation charges.