With its picturesque beaches, Alibag, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, is one of the popular tourist spots. But, this historic place will be now recognized for Geographical Indication (GI) tagged white onion. The GI for this onion, characterized by its sweetness, has been accepted. It was published in the government gazette last week. 

“The GI tag gives a unique identity to the white onion, which has medicinal qualities and is being cultivated in a traditional way for a long time. Farmers will directly get benefits as the white onion will get the premium price because of the GI tag” said Ganesh Hingmire, Chairman of Great Mission Group Consultancy (GMGC) who was involved in the process to get the GI tag for Alibag white onion.

Farmers in Alibag say white onions are grown here for ages with only traditional and genuine seeds. Locals have acquired knowledge and mastered the skills required for the cultivation of white onion. Geo-climatic conditions of Alibag make it unique compared to other white onion-producing areas and that is why Alibag white onion has developed a unique taste, flavour, and shape as well, say farmers. 

Export potential 

Ganesh Hingmire said the GI tag will help white onion farmers in Alibag to get a bigger export market. “ It (GI tag) adds to the export potential, which has helped other produce, such as chiku (Sapodilla) from Gholwad, Keshar mango from Marathwada, and bananas in Jalgaon” he said. 

Maharashtra State Onion Producer Farmer Organization members say the government must encourage exports so that farmers don’t have to suffer like the last year.   

Onion exports from Maharashtra declined to 5.8 lakh tonnes during FY22 from 7.9 lakh tonnes during FY21. Farmers and traders in Nashik, the onion hub of Maharashtra, said the wholesale prices in the domestic market were reasonably higher compared to export prices and hence, farmers preferred to sell the produce in the local market. 

“Also, higher freight charges and government’s policies to ban the export and impose higher minimum export price has dissuaded farmers from getting into export,” says said Bharat Dighole, President of Maharashtra State Onion Producer Farmer Organization.