By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 19 Dec: If government data on onion production from the past five years is analysed, it can be seen that in 2019 it nearly halved in comparison to 2018 (21.0 million tonnes) as the area under onion was only half of the usual acreage. The heat wave in May and subsequent heavy rains this year left only 50 per cent of the crop. The Centre has taken several measures to arrest the prices of onion in Delhi and other parts of the country. The total demand for onion per year is about 20 million tonnes with a deficit of 10 million tonnes which cannot be bridged by importing onion from other countries because China and India, both, are leading producers and consumers of onion. GOI is importing onions from Turkey, Afghanistan and Egypt to arrest the upward spiral in prices to give relief the Indian consumer, but it is only a drop in the tank. Uttarakhand has grown onions on approximately 4 thousand hectares yielding 41 thousand tonnes of onion bulbs with a productivity of 10 tonnes per hectare during the last five years, while potential for onion productivity can be raised up to 15 tonnes per hectare though the intervention of new technologies. In this regard, ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation has begun demonstration of new technologies for onion production with improved onion cultivar (Agrifound Light Red) with moisture conservation practices. This was done at Boxa tribal dominated villages Shahpur- Kalyanpur, here, today. Dr Harsh Mehta, Head, Plant Sciences, has initiated this drive to boost onion production on poor farmers’ fields by providing 4 quintals of onion seedling free of cost with improved package of practices. Agrifound Light Red is a high yielding rabi season onion cultivar. The bulbs of this cultivar are globular in shape and attractive dark red colour with tight skin and light red colour, maturing in 110-120 days after transplanting, having good keeping quality and recommended for growing in Rabi season all over the country. The team of TSP Programme in Plant Science Division has also encouraged farmers to grow more onion in their fields to fill the gap between onion production and demands as a model of peri-urban vegetable production in Vikasnagar block of Dehradun. Dr AC Rathore, Principal Scientist (Horticulture), and Dr AK Gupta (Scientist), have advocated that use of liquid fertiliser as well as microbial fertilisers as a part of integrated nutrient management will also improve the onion productivity in Uttarakhand. Likewise, integrated disease and pest management are important for realising the genetic potential of improved onion technologies. In addition to bulb production of onion, seed production can also help in doubling farmers’ income as a new strategy. On the occasion, about 50 Boxa farmers attended the awareness drive and took onion seedlings for transplanting in their fields.