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Onion production to grow 7% this year despite kharif crop losses

The Centre has projected a 7% rise in onion production for the current crop year, despite the fact that 25% of the kharif crop was destroyed, resulting in sky-high onion prices through the winter.

Releasing its first advance estimates for 2019-20 (July-June), the Agriculture Ministry said onion production is likely to touch 24.45 million tonnes, an increase from the 22.82 million tonnes produced in the previous year.

The kharif or summer crop was damaged by the twin impacts of a delayed monsoon and excess rainfall in the key producer States Maharashtra and Karnataka. The acute supply shortage resulted in retail prices above the ₹100 per kg mark in major metros through much of December. To tame the prices, the Centre imported onions from Egypt and Turkey. However, most Indian consumers did not like the taste of the imported onions, which reached markets at the same time just as Indian farmers began harvesting the early rabi crop, resulting in prices dropping to ₹60 per kg from peaks of ₹180/kg.

Increased acreage

The Agriculture Ministry data showed that farmers have planted an increased acreage this year, sowing onions in 12.93 lakh hectares. Given the losses of the kharif crop, much of the increased production for the year will come from the kharif crop, which could lead to a supply glut later this year.

Overall, vegetable production is set to rise 2.6% this year with most of the growth coming from onions, potatoes (3.5%) and tomatoes (1.7%).

However, fruit production is expected to fall 2.3% this year, mostly due to lower production of grapes, bananas, mangoes, citrus fruits, papayas and pomegranates.

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