BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has drawn up a plan to encourage farmers to take up late cultivation of kharif onion from this year to achieve self-sufficiency in production of the vegetable.
“It has been planned to start onion farming in an area of 4,000 hectare (ha) this kharif season. If the response of the farmers will be encouraging, we will think of area expansion from next year,” Horticulture Director Susanta Nanda told this paper.
Onion is a winter crop in Odisha and harvesting of the vegetable starts from March. Though the State has been producing onion more than its requirement, the vegetable is sold out right in the harvesting season due to lack of storage facility.
Farmers of western Odisha districts including Boudh, Balangir, Kalahandi and Nuapada have been successfully growing the crop during kharif and late kharif for the last few years. Since the area of coverage is very small, the Government wants to promote this practice and scale up the area of cultivation, sources in the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) said.
The State usually faces shortage of onion from September to next harvest in March-April. The objective of promoting kharif cultivation is to become self-reliant on onion production, he said.
To encourage the farmers for taking up kharif cultivation of onion, the Horticulture Department will provide quality seeds and financial assistance under Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY).
Besides, separate assistance is provided for construction of low cost onion storage structure.
In the last two years, onion prices have crossed `50 per kg at least four times. This is despite the fact that the State’s onion production is about four tonnes while the State’s annual requirement is about 2.5 lakh tonnes.
The State Government has already announced to launch ‘Onion Mission’ on the lines of the Potato Mission to become self-reliant in production and storage.
The Government is likely to announce reasonable support prices for onion to save the farmers from exploitation by outside traders. Meanwhile, the State Government has decided to maintain a buffer stock of 4,500 tonnes of potato this year for market intervention during crisis of the tuber.