NAMAKKAL: As an antioxidant, flavour enhancer and a staple in multiple cuisines, onion is indispensable. More farmers are coming forward to cultivate this pungent vegetable in the past three years, thanks largely to the aid extended by both the State and Centre under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP).
The major onion markets are Ottanchatram, Koyambedu, and Coimbatore. Usually, there is price fluctuation in small onions and Bellary onions during peak season. No matter how high the market price is, farmers get only the minimum return.
Namakkal Deputy Director of Horticulture K Ganesan said, “Under the NADP scheme, the horticulture department is giving a subsidy of Rs 20,000 per hectare to cultivate onion. Besides, to store one metric tonne (MT) onion, Rs 3,500 is being provided as a subsidy for creating storage facilities.”
Talking about seed production, the DD added, “In the past, farmers obtained bulbs from nearby districts to cultivate onion in Namakkal. In a move to make things easier for farmers, we are procuring true onion seeds and giving them to Farmers Producers Group (FPG).” For this process, FPG is paid Rs 2,000 per kg seed as an incentive and the seedlings are distributed by the horticulture department at subsidised costs, Ganesan noted.
The horticulture department also provided subsidies for creating low-cost onion storage infrastructures for 2430 MT from 2018 to 2021. In the year 2018-19, the number of beneficiaries was 28 and it was 23 in 2019-20 and 105 in 2020-21.
R Thiyagarajan, a farmer in Senthamangalam opined that the department should fix a Minimum Support Price (MSP) instead of providing subsidies. “During the fourth quarter in the previous year, the price of onion stood at Rs 150 per kg. But, now it is Rs 20 and traders sell it Rs 40 per kg. The production cost for onion is Rs 1 lakh and above. Whereas, the returns are very low. Hence, MSP should be amended as soon as possible,” he said. P Saravanan, an organic farmer in Ariyagoundampatti, said, “State and Central governments offer subsidies based on the area coverage. Instead of this, if the subsidies could be provided based on production, it will be beneficial.”