Onion price hike never scares this farmer
Chittoor (Palakkad): The soaring onion price will never bother Eruthempathy native S Britto as he has been cultivating shallots for the past 10 years. Though onion and shallot farming is rare in the district, Britto has been producing shallots as catch crop with other vegetables for household use.
Britto is farming cassava, banana, yam, turmeric and other crops on a five-acre land. As it is harvest season for the main crops, shallots is grown on a 50 cent plot now.
Shallot seed is sowed after heaping soil on the specially made ridge. Medium sized onion bought from shops are used as seed. Plants are irrigated at regular intervals. Cow dung is applied as fertiliser. Shallots can be harvested within 85-90 days.
If 1 kilogram of seed is planted, upto 10 kilogram of shallots can be harvested. If farming is started by the middle of February, cultivation can be repeated thrice a year, Britto said.
Shallot can be preserved upto three months, if it is kept on a trellis-like platform not touching the ground so that air circulation is ensured from top and bottom. Britto is still using the shallots harvested from last season.
He used to sell shallot at a rate of Rs 30 per kilogram to his neighbours until previous season. Though shallot price is rising now, production is very low and he is not selling.
Rain and moisture in soil are the major challenges for onion or shallot farming, Britto said. It will perish in rain and the entire crop will be lost. Not many farmers are trying onion due to fear of loss and the fluctuating prices.
Earlier, onion farming was common in Eruthempathy, Vadakarapathy and Kozhinjampara. The farmers switched to other crops after the arrival of onion from Tamil Nadu increased and demand for locally produced onions decreased.
Only very few people are cultivating onion and shallot now. Even they are choosing it as a catch crop only. In Britto’s opinion, anyone can grow onion if they are ready to do.