After banning the export of the vegetable itself, the government has also decided to ban the export of onion seeds, after reports emerged of the seed’s shortage ahead of the next sowing season in the country.
On September 14, the government banned the export of onions as price of the bulb crossed the “psychological” mark of Rs 30 per kg in wholesale markets of Nashik. After an initial lull, wholesale prices have started rising again with onion now trading above Rs 50 per kg at retail markets. Farmers are planning to increase the kharif acreage of the crop due to more attractive prices at wholesale markets. Onion seeds have been reported to be in high demand across the country.
Farmers in onion-growing states normally take three crops to feed the market through the year. Thus, kharif and late kharif crops are sown depending on the monsoon, while the summer or rabi crop is sown on soil moisture. The late kharif crop is sown in October-November and harvested after November, while the rabi crop is sown in December and harvested after March. The destruction of the kharif crop in North Karanataka has caused the current shortage and subsequent price rise.
A direct fallout of wholesale and retail price rise was an increased demand in onion seeds from farmers. Normally, farmers use home-grown seeds, which they prepare and harvest as part of their regular crop. The work of seed collection takes place during the late kharif crop.
Last year, farmers preferred to sell their crop instead of dedicating it towards seed production due to delayed sowing and relatively better prices of onion in January-February. The districts of Jalna, Aurangabad and Buldhana are major hubs of onion seed production and, in these areas, farmers have reported poor seed formation due to dwindling population of honeybees. Onion is an open pollinating variety (OPV) and requires natural pollinators such honeybees and moths to physically transport pollen. On an average, India records 2 lakh tonnes of onions for production of seeds annually.
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