Widespread losses of onion crop, poor quality of available produce caused by heavy rains, and reduced productivity has pushed up onion prices over the last fortnight.
Onion growers, who were affected by poor rains in the start of the season, are now faced with the problem of heavy rains that has increased the moisture level in the soil resulting in crop losses or poor quality crop. The Centre has notified ban on onion exports as domestic price of onion has been going up steadily.
May breach 40 mark
For example, the wholesale price of good quality onions from Karnataka being traded in Bengaluru that was hovering between 20 and 22 a kg last week is now between 26 and 28 a kg, while the old onions from Maharashtra that cost around 22 a kg last week has touched 30 a kg now. Traders here are expecting the price to breach 40 per kg mark soon if the supply of quality onion is poor.
According to Karisiddappa of Sri Jenukal Siddeshwara Traders here, fresh onion supplies from the State is currently from areas around Chitradurga, parts of Tumakuru and Chikkamagaluru, and that the quality was a concern since these harvested onions had high moisture content. Onion supply from Maharashtra had declined and crops in North Karnataka have been affected by rains. Crops on Andhra Pradesh have been affected as well. We are expecting the price to go beyond 40 in the near future, he added.
The high soil moisture has led to the onion crop being affected by bulb rot disease in several districts, and there have been at least two instances of farmers destroying the crop affected by the disease in Ballari and Davangere districts.
According to the farm scientists in Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Kalaburagi, over moisture in the soil during crop-maturity period led to many diseases and abnormal growth in onion crop such as basal rot, bulb and stem bending, imbalanced and uneven growth and tip burning and inflicted irreversible damages. The problem is widespread with most of the kharif onion cultivated on 1.52 lakh hectares in the State, especially the crop in black soil, in a similar condition. The crop which was supposed to be harvested and brought to the market by the first week of September is still struggling to survive on the wet soil.
The onion supply from Maharashtra and Telangana to the State has diminished due to extensive crop damage in the rains. It is very much that the dropped yield in the State, coupled with the diminished supply from outside, would widen the gap between demand and supply and lead to shooting up in prices in the days to come, P. Vasudev Naik, a horticulture scientist at Kalaburagi KVK, told The Hindu. The rains have also had an adverse impact on the rabi onion expected to be cultivated on more than 4 lakh hectares in the State by delay in sowing. The sowing should have been completed in August and the crop is supposed to be harvested in January.
The rains have, however, pushed the sowing by a couple of months. It is likely that the rabi onion harvest would be in February or March next year and the lack of moisture content in the soil and dry weather during the maturity time would risk the crop to purple blotch disease and fall in the yield, Zaheer Ahamed, plant pathologist from Kalaburagi KVK, said.
(With inputs from Sharath S. Srivatsa in Bengaluru, Kumar Buradikatti in Kalaburagi, and Girish Pattanshetti in Hubballi)