BHUBANESWAR: The Agriculture Department is working out modalities for launching an Onion Mission in the lines of State Potato Mission to combat soaring prices and achieve self-sufficiency in onion production. The proposed onion mission was discussed at a meeting chaired by Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja recently. The meeting deliberated on different aspects including economic status of onion growing farmers, availability of farm credit, areas under onion cultivation, institutional support to farmers and the gap in extension services, supply of quality seeds and storage facility in the State. “A mission framework will be prepared after thorough deliberation with progressive farmers, experts in the field, vegetable scientists and other stakeholders,” sources in the Horticulture Department said.
The Department is also working out the financial requirement for launching the mission, the sources said adding, the Government will be requested to make budgetary provision for implementation of the programme in a mission mode. Under the mission, the State Government is planning to provide quality onion seeds and financial incentives to encourage farmers to take up onion cultivation on commercial basis. Apart from facilitating farm credit to farmers, the Government will also ensure proper storage facility, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy said. The State Government had announced to launch onion mission in August last year following acute shortage of the edible bulb in the State.
The State has experienced soaring prices of the vegetable (touching `50 a kg) at least four times during the last two years. Though the State producesmore onion than its annual requirement, a large quantity goes waste or farmers are forced to resort to distress sale due to lack of storage facilities. The State produces around 4 lakh tonne of onion every year against the demand of 2.95 lakh tonne. Due to lack of storage facilities, the farmers are forced to sell the vegetable to traders from neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The State mainly depends on Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to meet its onion requirement. Scanty rainfall in these States during the last two years has affected the onion crop leading to price rise. Meanwhile, the State Government has taken up measures for construction of about 26,000 low cost storage structures in major onion producing districts.