GUWAHATI, July 2 � Assam is poised to become an onion-surplus State in the next two-three years, with onion production recording a boom for the first time in an area of 2,000 hectares covered under the Chief Minister�s Onion Mission this year.
The transformation in yield has been remarkable � from the earlier per-hectare average of 3.6 MT (2012-13) to 15-18 MT in the area chosen under the mission. Enthused by the boost in yield, the Department of Agriculture has decided to enhance the area coverage under the mission to 8,000 hectares in 2014-15.
The high-yielding onion seeds named �Agri Found Light Red� variety were supplied by the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, a Bhatinda (Punjab)-based Government of India agency.
�The first phase of the mission covered 21 districts, and in view of the positive results, the area coverage would be extended to 8,000 hectares covering all the 27 districts. We are expecting an average per hectare yield of 18-20 MT next year,� sources in the Agriculture Department told The Assam Tribune.
Assam has a yearly demand of 4 lakh MT onion against a production of around 40,000 MT (2012-13). The estimated production for 2013-14 following the first phase of the mission is 1,78,796 MT. Currently, the total area under onion production in the State is 11,000 hectares, including the 2,000 hectares under the mission.
�With the area under the mission set to witness a four-fold increase by 2014-15, the estimated production is 3,06,000 MT by 2015,� sources said.
The best three performing districts in the first phase of the mission have been Dhubri with an average per hectare yield of 18-20 MT, followed by Goalpara with 15-17 MT, and Darrang with 13-15 MT.
Sources said that seeds worth Rs 1 crore (100 quintals at Rs 1,000 per kg) were distributed among farmers � mostly small and marginal ones � and the mission was implemented in cluster approach, covering a minimum area of five hectares per cluster in the chosen 21 districts.
�The seeds were raised in community nurseries during September-November last year and the harvesting took place in March this year and the yield was very encouraging at 15-18 MT per hectare,� sources added.