Rabi onion harvesting begins, output to touch 8 mn tonnes

New Delhi: The farmers have started harvesting the rabi onion crop in major producing states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and others amid hopes of high yield, government research body NHRDF said on Friday.

"As of now crop condition is very good and harvesting has commenced in major growing states," a senior official with Nasik-based National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) told PTI.

The harvesting of rabi onion normally begins from mid-March and continues till July.

The official said that farmers were earlier worried that the continous spell of rains till February would hit yields.

But the crop growth has not been affected so far.

Harvesting of rabi onion is expected to pick from next month. Best time to harvest is one week after 50 per cent tops have fallen over, he added.

"Farmers are expecting rabi onion output to rise by 10 per cent to 8 million tonnes (MT), as against 7.3 MT in the same period last year," he said, adding that about 60 per cent of the country`s onion production comes from rabi season.

India has three seasons for onion – kharif (winter), late kharif and rabi (summer).

The NHRDF official also mentioned that 50 per cent of the rabi onion output is kept in storage for use in lean season (August-November) and farmers fetch good price.

"More farmers are enquiring about storing onions till Diwali. We are helping them with information. We expect storage of 4 million tonnes of onions this year," he said.

Last year, 3.6 million tonnes onions were in stored units.

In Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, large-scale storage of onions is taken in conventionally-designed structures.

In other states, the storage is taken only on small scale. But it is now showing an increasing trend after the post-harvest technology and improved storage structures have been popularised by NHRDF.

The country`s total production is expected to be around 13 million tonnes in the 2010-11 crop year, as against 12.1 million tonnes last year, according to NHRDF data.