State hopeful of becoming self-reliant in producing onions in 5 years
Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee-government is hopeful of becoming self-reliant in the production of onion in the state in the next five years.
The state government that could manage to produce only 20 percent of the domestic demand in the year 2011 is now producing as much as 55 percent of the domestic demand.
"The domestic annual demand for onion in Bengal is 5.5 lakh metric tonne. We have raised our production from 20 percent to 55 percent in the last six years. Presently, 45 percent of the bulb needs to be imported from Nasik in Maharashtra. If we can maintain the present growth rate, we hope to become self-sufficient in the production of onion in the next five years," Subhasis Batabyal, vice-chairman of West Bengal Agro Industries Corporation (WBAIC) said.
The state government now has to spend a huge amount in transportation for the import of onion.
A senior official of WBAIC said that onion is being cultivated twice during the year — during the rainy season and during winter. The variety that is being cultivated during the monsoon is the Dark Red one while the Sukhsagar (a bit whitish) variety during winter.
The Pashimanchal area comprising Bankura, Purulia, West Midnapore, Birbhum and Burdwan are producing onions where the nature of land suits its cultivation.
The official, however, admitted that encouraging farmers in cultivation of onion is a challenge.
"Bengal is a state of small farmers and usually the livelihood of the entire family is dependent on the crop that he produces on his land. So farmers are mostly unwilling to go for diversification. So we are conducting
awareness workshops with experts in the state to encourage farmers in diversification," he said.
The state has been categorised into three components of soil condition, climatic condition and facilities of irrigation to cultivate the right crop at the right place so that farmers get worth of their hard labour.
The state is now going for a balanced production.
Crops like paddy, vegetables including potato are being produced in abundance more than the demand while pulses, oilseeds, wheat, onions, maize etc have productions less than the demand. "We are trying to convince the farmers in crop diversification so that we become self-reliant and farmers too get their due for their toil," Batabyal said.