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State takes steps to develop infra for preserving onions

KOLKATA: The state Agricultural Marketing department is working to develop infrastructure for preservation of onion. The production of onion has increased by leaps and bounds, thanks to various measures taken by the state government and so preservation has assumed utmost importance to cut down import of the cash crop.

"We have to spend a reasonable amount in subsidy for making it available to the common people in the market after importing onion from Nashik. If we can develop infrastructure for preservation, then we can cut down reasonably on import and on the subsidy too. We are taking expert opinions on what technology can be embraced for onion preservation keeping in parity with our weather conditions," Biplab Mitra, state Agricultural Marketing minister said.

The minister said space for developing the infrastructure would not be a constraint with ample space available in some of the Kisan Mandis of the department.

The state has to import over 6 lakh metric tonnes of onion annually to cater to its annual demand of 13 lakh metric tonnes. In 2019-20, the state grew 6.70 lakh metric tonnes on 37400 hectares. As the cultivation of onion is less during the Kharif season, the price often soars up particularly during the winter months when the state has to depend mainly on imports. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan are the leading states in onion production and exports onion to other states. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wants that Bengal should emerge as the fourth major onion producing state and become self sufficient in onion cultivation. "There is a great potential for export to Bangladesh which consumes onion to a large extent but does not grow enough," a senior official of the department said.

The state government is taking up large scale cultivation of onion during the Kharif season on 1800 acres spanned across nine districts in the state. The official added that cultivation will be taken up in Hooghly, North 24-Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad, Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum, West Midnapore and Malda as the climate and soil conditions are suitable.As per estimates, 25 quintals of onion can be produced on 1 acre, hence 1800 acres have the potential of producing 45000 quintals.

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