Economy

Eastern UP farmers now truly know their onions

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on May 04, 2018

Tata Trusts guides them to switch from wheat to cash crop

Luring farmers away from their traditional cropping choices is an onerous task. Often, they refuse to switch to a new crop even if the conventionally-grown ones have long become economically unviable.

Tata Trusts, a century-old philanthropic organisation of the Tatas, however, made a beginning when it convinced a few thousand small and marginal farmers in eastern Uttar Pradesh to grow onions in the place of wheat and maize.

“Soil and climatic conditions in the region were conducive for onions, but the farmers were not growing them in a big way,” said Amita Jain, Regional Director of Tata Trusts.

“As a result, consumers in the region were dependent on onions coming from other parts of the country,” she added.

This prompted the organisation to promote the cultivation of the bulbous vegetable in 2015-16.

“We were able to convince around 8,000 families in 11 eastern UP districts to participate in a pilot programme. This helped us arrange a total of 1,250 acres for onion cultivation,” said Jain.

As the farmers managed to get a profit of ₹90,000 per acre, more farmers evinced interest in taking up onion cultivation in the rabi season.

The handsome returns were mainly because the productivity of the crop was almost double the national average, thanks to the selection of better seed varieties, improved agricultural practices and cheaper but effective storage facilities.

The success attracted the attention of the UP government, which has decided to support onion farmers under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

Currently, Maharashtra accounts for 38 per cent of onion production in the country while UP’s share is abysmal. As onion is a cash crop and can be stored for a long period of time, it can help farmers to realise better returns.

According to Jain, the Tata Trusts has drawn up an ambitious plan to develop 14 onion-farming clusters in four identified districts in the region.

“Over the next five years, we hope to bring 40,000 acres of land under onion cultivation,,” Jain said.

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Published on May 03, 2018
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