Agri Business

Onion crop comes under Agriculture Ministry scanner

| | Updated on: Aug 05, 2012
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The Union Agriculture Ministry is keeping a watchful eye on the politically sensitive onion crop. ISRO’s Resourcesat-2 satellite is snapping high quality images of the onion fields, so that policy makers can get accurate data and decide on the approach to be taken on onion exports.

The satellite survey is being carried out in onion-growing districts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.

Over the last one year, the National Horticulture Mission has been funding a project for arriving at a right estimation of the crop in the country.

The project is being implemented by the Nasik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation. Nasik is the largest onion growing district in the country.

Encouraging results

R.P. Gupta, Director of the foundation told Business Line that the results have been very encouraging. When the ground data was correlated with the satellite data, it was found to be 75 per cent accurate. Soon NHRDF could get data with 90 per cent accuracy, he said.

“A NHRDF field officer goes to the onion field with a global positioning system tracker. At the same time, the satellite takes the picture of the field. The picture is then analysed depending on the colours and the hues of the field and the size of the crop is arrived at,” Gupta said.

Satellite image of the onion-growing area is gathered at an early growing stage, maturity and harvesting time. GPS tracker helps ground data to correlate with the satellite images.


A senior Maharashtra Government official said the crop survey based on satellite technology will help the Centre in forming its onion export policy. It will give better estimates of the crop size.

In the last couple of years, the Centre’s policy on onion has come under fire because an export ban had led to glut in the market. Last year, onion farmers from Nasik and the surrounding region stopped bringing onion to the market due to falling prices. Their decision was reversed only after the export ban was lifted, the official said.

Inaccurate figures

The Revenue Department usually gives inaccurate figures about the actual acreage under the crop, the officials pointed out. They do not have a proper mechanism to get the figures. Village-level officials are usually saddled with huge amount of administrative work and therefore getting the right data is difficult.

Published on March 12, 2018

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