.........BHAWANIPATNA: Onion growers of Kalahandi district harvested 15,000 tonnes against the annual local consumption of about 6,000 tonnes. The farmers, who were hopeful of reaping profits from surplus production, have been left high and dry in the absence of poor marketing and storage facilities.
In Kalahandi district, onion is grown in Bhawanipatna, Kesinga, Narla and Golamunda blocks where farmers sink small chahalas and irrigate the fields through traditional means.
According to farmers, the soil here is suitable for growing onion during both rabi and kharif seasons, but due to lack of storage and marketing facilities, the area under coverage is not increasing. The Horticulture department, which plays a major role in introduction of monsoon onion in more areas of the district, it is yet to take any steps in this direction, the farmers alleged. At present, the department is providing demonstration kits to a few farmers and monsoon onion is grown on about 100 acres only.
The farmers said opening of bulk storage facilities by the Government and bank patronage can help farmers in saving the crop, besides ensuring profits. Under Horticulture Mission, 20-tonne onion storage facility is available at 50 per cent subsidy. There are, however, few takers for the facility as each storage unit costs `1.75 lakh. The farmers are reluctant to go for it due to poor financial background.
Under such circumstances, the farmers are forced to sell most of the products from the farm land itself soon after harvest at throwaway prices.
Usually, harvesting is undertaken in April and traders from outside the State procure the produce through their agents at `400 or `500 per quintal. Agents of the traders, particularly from Chhattisgarh, Berhampur, Kolkata as well as Bhubaneswar camp during the harvesting season, procure the stock and sell it later at a higher price.
With the local produce already procured, the districtís consumers depend on Nashik onion. Wholesalers Tahalram Makhija and Sanjiv Swain said, local onion is available from April till mid June after which Nashik onion is imported through agents at Raipur. Three qualities of onion are sold to retailers at `575, `550 and `475 per 50 kg. The same is sold in Bhawanipatna at around `15 per kg, Swain said.