Onion Seed Production for Self Reliance and Higher Returns

Chitradurga district is located in the Central Dry Zone of Karnataka with average rainfall of 450-500 mm. The major crops of the district are finger millet, maize, pigeonpea, groundnut, cotton, onion, coconut, banana, arecanut and millets. The area of onion in kharif is around 19193 ha accounting for around 2 lakh kg seed requirement. Seed is the major input for which farmers are dependent on Satara Dist. of Maharastra. But quality is not assured and there are many instances of susceptibility of the variety for pest and diseases. Hence, it was felt necessary to train the farmers on scientific seed production technology to ensure self-reliance in terms of seed availability in the district. The district average yield of onion is 19.50 t/ha but, potential yield is around 30 t/ha, which indicates that there is a large scope for increasing the productivity and returns. The reasons for lower productivity are poor quality seed material, imbalanced nutrient management and lack of awareness on plant protection measures.

Technology, Implementation and Support

Based on the problems observed, KVK Chitradurga started conducting on farm testing on nutrient management for addressing the issues related to leaf twisting which was one of the major problems for yield decline. Later, large scale frontline demonstrations were conducted on integrated crop management in onion in Chitradurga district followed by several seminars and trainings conducted to create awareness and spread the technology. From past five years the KVK started seed production activity in onion through farmer’s participation. Since, it is mainly grown for commercial bulb production during Kharif, very less number of farmers growing seed production during Rabi season with local varieties. In this context, KVK planned for technical interventions on scientific seed production and self reliance for quality seeds in the district.

The assessment of suitable technologies for correcting the leaf twisting problem during 2008 -09 by the KVK revealed that application of zinc, boron and gypsum reduced the percentage of leaf twisting in onion. In the succeeding years demonstrations were conducted on integrated crop management to improve the bulb yield. During 2012-13 onwards, more emphasis was given on seed production activity in major onion growing areas of Chitradurga. Apart from this, farmers were convinced through district level seminars, workshops and krishi melas. The training programmes on ICM, nutrient management, weed management and scientific ways of seed production activity were conducted through FLD’s and Farmers Field School. Varietal assessment was made to know the performance of different varieties during 2013-14 and 201415. Among the varieties assessed Bhima super and Arka Kalyan were found to be promising, and this outcome helped to take up large scale seed production programme during 2016-17. FLD’s on integrated crop management in onion were conducted in, 2012-13 and 2013-14 by covering 10 ha in 25 farmer’s field. After that, to ensure quality seeds in onion cultivation, KVK started seed production activity of improved varieties viz., Arka Kalyan and Bhima Super through farmer’s participation involving 15 farmers. In order to ensure quality seed availability in the district, seed production activity was expanded to Muddapura village. This seed was spread to neighbouring districts viz., Bellary, Chikkamagaluru and Tumkur.

Uptake, Spread and Benefits

Comprehensive interventions of KVK through awareness programmes, training activities, frontline demonstrations, advisory services, seed production and convergence with line departments has resulted into a positive outcome in terms of adoption of onion variety Arka Kalyan by the farmers of the district. Currently, there has been a significant increase in area under onion variety Arka Kalyan.

Onion variety Arka Kalyan cultivation is economically viable for the farmers as compared to local variety which is mainly cultivated in Chitradurga district. Onion variety Arka Kalyan gives returns even during agricultural drought years and resistant to purple blotch. This is in contrast to the local varieties cultivated by the farmers. The comparison of economics between commercial seed and bulb production of Arka Kalyan variety revealed that commercial seed production activity gave high net returns of Rs 7,10,000 as compared to commercial bulb production with Rs 2,05,000.

The production of onion gave higher net returns compared to commercial bulb production and also provides additional employment to the family members of farmers. It is helping farmers of Chitradurga district to achieve self-reliance on quality seeds and timely availability in their local region. This has greatly reduced the risks and uncertainties involved in purchase of seeds from neighbouring state.

(Source: Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Chitradurga, Karnataka, kvk.Chitradurga [at] icar.gov.in)