Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 10:
With onion prices touching new highs with every passing year and acute shortage leading to widespread protests, Odisha Government’s initiative to boost onion production in the state named ‘Onion mission’ has hit a roadblock.
Even though the government has signed a MoU with National Seeds Corporation Limited to produce advanced breed of seeds that can adapt to the Odisha climate, the corporation has now turned its back on the government and expressed its inability to produce the seeds.
The seeds corporation has cited lack of infrastructure in the state as the reason behind its refusal to fulfil its commitment. Besides, it has pointed out that the state is yet to identify a place to produce the seeds and the government is unable to provide any data regarding the diseases that affect onion cultivation here and its prevention. Moreover, it has cited that the government has not taken any steps to protect the seeds.
The state horticulture department has approached the head of the Department of Vegetables of Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology (OUAT) to come up with a solution after the denial of the seeds corporation.
Failure to find the right kind of seeds that can adapt to the Odisha climate has been the root cause behind farmers not taking interest in onion cultivation.
The variety named ‘agri found light red’ that does well here has been much in demand, but the supply of this variety has been scant.
National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation of Nasik that provides this seed was unable to meet the demand last year forcing the government to procure seeds from the open market. However, farmers protested the poor quality of the seed and a vigilance enquiry ordered into the procurement.
It may be noted that the state consumes 1048 Metric Tonnes of onion a day. As per government data, the state produces more onion than it consumes. However, it ends up importing 900-1000 Metric Tonnes of onion a day from states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh owing to lack of storage facilities.
Onion prices recently touched Rs 60 a kilo in most parts of the state after supply from Nasik receded following bad crops there.