By Prashant Dash
Angul, May 11: The traditional onion farming in Chhendipada-Jarapada terrain of Angul district withers away duo to lack of patronage for the cash crop.
While Odisha is depending on Nasik round the year for onion, government support could have changed the scenario making the state self dependent in onion cultivation.
Odisha is among the top-10 onion producing states in India. Angul, Bolangir, Koraput and Boudh districts are considered to be the major onion yielding districts in the state.
However, onion farming in Angul district is spectacularly high regarding its domain and farmers’ participation. Farmers of almost all the 34 gram panchayats in Chhendipada-Jarapada terrain have been farming onion as their major source of income since decades. Financial stability of about 2,3804 farmers depend on onion farming. They plant onion seedlings over around 21,938 hectares of land along with 2,840 hectares of cultivatable waste land in the month of October and November and harvest by the mid of January.
Being the soil quality more conductive for onion, farmers yield tons of standard onion per head , following traditional practices and rural mechanism. Use of vermin compost, cow dung and organic waste boost the quality and quantity of onion produced from the area.
Especially, the reddish white onion of Jarapada is of a special demand for its exotic aroma. At the same time the country onion which is abundantly cultivated in Katada, Kanjara,Tubey, Tasara and Maratira region is having a sizable domain in Odisha market.
As much as 2.59 lakh metric tonne onion was produced in Angul district from 28,508 hectares of land in 2006-07, while Chendipada block contributed about 1.83 lakhs mt. In 2010-11, Angul district grew 3.8 lakh metric tonne of onion from 34,750 hectares of land. Chendipada-Jarapada region contributed 89% of it. In 2011-12, the district horticulture department estimated the total onion production in the district to touch over 4 lakh tones from around 40,000 hectares.
However, the growth of onion production in Angul saw a drastic fall after 2014 due to depletion of ground water for lack of rain. There is no lift irrigation and minor irrigation project to facilitate the traditional onion farming. As a result, most of the onion farmers grow their crop with manual lift irrigation (Tenda) from mud wells. Thus, scanty rain determines the success or failure of this cash crop.
Apart from it, there is no provision of a cold storage within 30 kilometer radius to store the surplus produce for long period. Even, the rate of manual bamboo warehouse is too rare with farmers.
Similarly, lack of adequate market is a potential aspect to trade onion profitably. Maratira and Angul weekly Hata are the options to batter thousand tons of onion with absolutely undersell price.
Meanwhile, onion farmers detract from their decade old practices and search for other occupation, while the land meant for onion goes barren.
At the same time, Odisha imports million tons of Onion from Moharastra and Andhra Pradesh paying from the state exchequer.
If the onion potential of Angul is nurtured with a long vision, it could boost the state economy, apart from addressing the need of Odisha kitchen, said Ranjit Patnaik a social activist.