exported 11.61 lakh tonnes of onions during 2006-07 which is a record quantity
after the export was canalized through NAFED. There are many ups and downs
recorded in export quantity and value which is due to fluctuation in production
and prices, and sometimes due to ban imposed on export to safeguard the
interest of consumers in the country. Big onions having, light red to
dark red coloured bulbs are grown in most of the parts. Small onions,
known as rose onion, and Krishnapuram onions are grown in Kolar district
in Karnataka and Cudappah district in Andhra Pradesh. Multiplier onion,
known as Podisu and Shallots, are grown in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and
produced in Maharastra, Gujrat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are exported
from Mumbai, Chennai , Tuticorin, Kandla and Kolkata ports to Dubai ,
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Malaysia, Singapore, Seychelles and
Bangladesh. Onions grown in India are very much in demand in Gulf Countries
and Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh because of strong pungency.
produced in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are exported from Chennai port
to Singapore and Malaysia, and multiplier onions to Singapore, Malaysia,Sri
Lanka etc. Maharashtra has maximum share in onion export.
has developed all the 3 types onions , Agrifound Dark Red and Agrifound
Light Red (big onion), Agrifound Rose (small onion) and Agrifound Red
(multiplier onion) for export. Important characters of these onions are
given in Table 1. The NHRDF have also tested yellow varieties where Arad(H)
of Hazera Seed Co. , Israel has performed best.
characters of onion varieties
( % )
( q / ha )
round, medium to big
days from transplanting
round, medium to big, compact , outer scale tight
days from transplanting
Flatish round, 2.5-3.5 cm diameter
95-110 days from sowing
5-6 bulblets/ clump, bulblet of 2-2.5 cm size
66-67 days from sowing
Big-sized global round bulbs of 6-8 cm diameter
90-100 days after transplanting
concept of developing the onion villages may help increase the export
of onion. The provision of financial assistance to exporters to complete
in the international market may also be looked into. Export on regular
basis not only helps in getting foreign exchange earnings but also allows
farmers to get remunerative price for their produce thereby encouraging
them to sustain the production and availability of onions. Government
should in fact have long term export policy and should even introduce
contract production system in suitable pockets.
Quality standards for export
The quality standards of onion have been fixed by Agmark although now
it is not mandatory to obtain Agmark certificate for onion export. It
is necessary to maintain the quality by observing the standards. The grades
, big ,medium, small and mixed are followed for different types of onions
which depend on requirements from importing country. In the survey made
by NHRDF , it is observed that Middle East countries demand light red
to dark red colour, European countries and Japan demand yellowish /brown
colour onions having mild pungency, 3-4 cm sized onions are preferred
in Bangladesh, 4-6 cm sized are preferred in Middle East and Far East,
while European and Japan prefer 6-7 cm sized onions. Rose onions of 2.5
- 3.5 cm size and multiplier onions of bigger size with attractive red
colour bulblets are preferred for export. European countries and Japan
prefer yellow big-sized onions. The demand in these countries is from
February and up to May when it is very easily possible to cultivate onion
in Nasik area of Maharashtra.
The bulbs selected for export should be reasonably uniform in shape ,
size, colour and pungency. They should be mature ,solid, reasonably firm
with tough clinging skin, thoroughly cured and dried outer scales free
from dirt and other foreign material. Defective, diseased, damaged bulbs
caused by seed stem, tops, roots, moisture, dry sunscald, sun burn, sprouting,
mechanical or other injuries and staining, free from moulds, soft rot
and insect attack should not be used for export. The trained labourer
are thus required for grading and packing of onions for exports. The packing
size for export varies from 8 to 25 kg depending on requirement of onion
by importing country. Although jute mesh bags are used for export, if
there is no restriction for their use due to environmental pollution problems
in some countries, plastic-wooven bags since are reusable and attractive,
should be introduced.
Scope for increasing export
India is presently exporting onions to mainly Gulf countries, Far East
countries, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka where there is not much scope to
increase the quantity as some countries have also started their own production.
The scope , however, exists for diversifying the market to European countries
and Japan. These countries do not prefer strong and pungent onions. In
these countries, yellow onions having mild pungency, bigger bulb size
with thick fleshy layers are preferred. The possibility of growing yellow
onions in Maharastra, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and other parts was explored
by NHRDF by taking trials on farmers' fields where bulbs of Arad ( H )
could be successfully produced during late-kharif season. The evaluation
of various exotic varieties has been done in the past and is being taken
up by NHRDF now also where good bulb development with required size and
quality could be produced during late-kharif season and thus export
from February to May by sending bulbs in electrically-ventilated containers
could be explored. For this, however, contract production is preferred
as there may not be much local demand for these onions if not purchased
by exporters for export.
there is a scope for exporting dehydrated onions as many processing units
under export-oriented unit schemes have been installed in India. These
are not presently running to their installed capacity mainly for want
of raw material. Thus, there is a scope for development of varieties suitable
for dehydration. Onion Agrifound White developed by NHRDF holds promise
in this regard. This variety has already been given for evaluation under
ICAR coordinated trials.
of export of onions on domestic supplies and price
There is general feeling that prices of onion within the country go up
if export is increased which is not true as the quantity exported is about
10-12% of the total production. Proper planning for production ,increased
export on the other hand may help growers to get remunerative prices for
good quality produce and develop the tendency for growing high quality
produce by farmers as also encourage them to maintain the production level
of onion which is essential to maintain the supplies even for domestic
markets demands without much price fluctuation.
practices and post-harvest handling if taken by the growers and others
involved in the onion industry based on scientific and recommended guidelines
would maintain the quantity and quality required for domestic and export
markets both and thus may not have much effect on internal supplies/prices
of onion. With this view, the expansion of area under kharif in
non-traditional pockets in North and Eastern India and cultivation of
early crop by set ( bulbet ) production are being popularized by NHRDF
so that onion supply for domestic demand is maintained and export of onion
is also continued.
in onion export
There are some constraints seen in onion exports and suggestions to overcome
these problems so that onion export from India is not only continued but
maybe increased :
of improved varieties, quality seed production and distribution, expansion
of area in non- traditional pockets and contract production for export.
for contract production for export market expansion of area and production
of kharif onion for early harvesting.
of proper post harvest practices and quality
Training of farmers and others involved in onion production, post-harvest
management and marketing.
material used is not attractive
Introduction of attractive, eco-friendly packages, consumer packages
containers for export of yellow onions to Europe . Adequate transport
with reasonable rates, synchronize the rail/road transport with schedule
of vessel and providing insulated wagons.
more ventilated storage godowns for onions. Providing handling sheds
and make available modified containers with proper ventilation
market intelligence for different seasons, quality of produce and corresponding
season crop in other competing countries.
FOR INCREASING EXPORT
The strategies suggested to improve the export of onions are :
and distribution of quality seed of improved varieties in adequate
quantities by following seed village concept.
of disease and insect pests resistant, heat / moisture stress tolerant
varieties by taking such work at NRC for Onion and Garlic.
of biological control measures against pests and disease by taking up
work with NRC for Onion and Garlic and NHRDF.
of yellow coloured hybrid and OPs for export to European and Japanese
markets by popularizing the technology for production during late-kharif
based on work undertaken by NHRDF and adopting contract production.
of bigger bulblet varieties in multiplier onion.
of farmers, traders and exporters involved in onion production, handling
of adequate curing and storage facilities at field level and at ports.
various onion products in export markets developing varieties suitable
for various processed products.