Onion sowing set to gain pace as monsoon gathers pace in Karnataka, Maharashtra

2023-07-20 16:34:22

Kharif onion acreage, which was trailing till last week, is seen picking up with key growing regions in Karnataka and Maharashtra beginning to receive rains over the past few days. The delay in planting in some regions of Karnataka will likely push back harvest to September-October, which may result in firm prices in the days ahead.

At Lasalgaon, Asia’s largest market for onions, the modal price (the rate at which most trades take place) have moved up from ₹800 per quintal in early June to the current level of ₹1,350. About 20,000 quintals of onions arrived on Thursday.

As per the Agriculture Ministry data, onion sowing has taken place on 0.32 lakh hectare (lh) as of July 14 compared with 0.36 lh a year ago. The target for sowing onion in the current kharif season is 3.41 lh compared with the total sown area of 3.29 lh last year.

In regions of central Karnataka — the Chitradurga district and the plain areas of Chikmagalur — the sowing has picked up of late. Officials said till date 13,000 hectares have been covered in Chitradurga compared with a target of 26,000 hectares. With the rains picking up, the target is likely to be achieved as sowing will go on till mid-August.

A trader in Hubbali said sowing has picked up in recent days across key regions of North Karnataka and in Kurnool in Andhra. “The crop size will depend on the rains in the coming months,” he said. Excess rains during the harvest period in August-September impacted the onion crop in the recent years. Onion prices in Hubballi mandi are ruling steady between ₹15 and 20 per kg over the past one month, he said.

Rains to aid sowing

Over past couple of days, onion growing regions in Maharashtra have also been receiving rains, which may aid sowing. Due to the deficit rains, about 74 per cent of the kharif land is under sowing compared with 83 per cent in the same period a year ago.

Farmers see a shortage owing to late kharif sowing and damage caused to the rabi crop stored in chawls. “Kharif onion will arrive late in the market and already rabi stock in chawls got damaged. I sold my produce just a few days ago at the price of ₹9 per kg as it was damaged” says onion farmer Shailesh Patil from Jalgaon. He said many farmers in the region have turned to other crops as prices of onion were not as per their expectations in the last three seasons. “This trend will add to the pressure on the supply in the market. There could be a shortage of onion in September and October” he said.

Farmers predicted that the onion seeds shortage in the market might further affect the supply chain. Traders in Lasalgaon said though Nafed has stocked the onion, the quality will be affected as storage facilities are not good enough to protect the produce from moisture.

Nafed has procured about 3 lakh tonnes of onions for the buffer stock, about 20 per cent more than last year and has invited tender from transporters to ship the bulbs from various producing regions of Maharashtra.

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