Govt expects onion output to rise 7%

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New Delhi: The government on Monday projected the country’s overall onion production to increase by seven per cent to 24.45 million tonnes in the current 2019-20 crop year, which may bring relief to consumers from high prices seen in the last few months.

Releasing its first forecast, the Agriculture Ministry said onion crops has been grown in 12.93 lakh hectare in the 2019-20 crop year (July-June), slightly higher than 12.20 lakh hectare achieved during the previous year.

Consequently, production of onion — the key kitchen staple — is estimated to increase to 24.45 million tonne this year from 22.81 million tonnes in the 2018-19 crop year.

Onion is grown during both kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) season. The ministry had recently said there was around 22 per cent damage in kharif onion crop due to late monsoon rains and later excess rainfall, which led to supply constraint and sharp rise in prices. The government was forced to import onion in a bid to contain prices, which have cooled down now to Rs 60/kg from the peak of Rs 160/kg in last few months.

Besides onion, production of potato — another important kitchen staple — is estimated to rise to 51.94 million tonne this year from 50.19 million tonne last year, while tomato production is also pegged slightly higher at 19.32 million tonne as against 19 million tonne in the said period.

The ministry has projected marginal drop in production of beans, parwal, pumpkin and tapioca this year.

However, overall production of vegetables is estimated to be higher at 188 million tonne in 2019-20 crop year from 183 million tonne in the previous year.

Among major fruits, production of apple is expected to be higher at 2.73 million tonne this year compared with the final output of 2.31 million tonne last year, but there is likely to be a fall in output of mango, banana, grapes, and pomegranate.

Production of mango is estimated to decline slightly to 21.28 million tonne this year from 21.37 million tonnes last year, while that of banana output may slip to 29.64 million tonnes from 30.46 million tonne and grapes output is expected to decline to 2.15 million tonne from 3 million tonne in the said period.

Pomegranate production is also estimated to fall to 2.32 million tonne this year from 2.91 million tonne last year, the ministry’s release said.

Total fruits production is pegged lower at 95.74 million tonnes in 2019-20 crop year as against 97.9 million tonnes in the previous year.

Spices production is estimated to drop to 9.37 million tonne from 9.42 million tonne, while that of flowers output to 2.87 million tonne from 2.91 million tonne in the said period.

Honey production is pegged at 1,20,000 tonne same at the last year’s level, while production of plantation crops like coconut, cashewnut is projected to increase marginally to 16.4 million tonne from 16.3 million tonne.

However, total production of horticulture crops is estimated at 313.35 million tonne in 2019-20, up from actual output of 310.74 million tonne in 2018-19.