ONION CULTIVATION IN CLUSTER APPROACH
ONION CULTIVATION IN CLUSTER APPROACH
The livelihood capabilities include assets (stores, resources, claims and access) and activities required for means of living. A livelihood is 'sustainable' when it can cope up and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the next generation and can contribute net benefits to other livelihoods.
Among vegetables, onion plays a unique role as vegetable as well as spice with its unique characteristics of pungency. In horticultural practices onion cultivation is major crops practiced all over India and a major source of livelihood enhancement of both small and marginal farmers. The onion cultivation is the major source of livelihood in Kalahandi district and more openly in Bhawanipatna block.
The major problems in onion cultivation in the district (Kalahandi) are many like small holdings, large proportion of small and marginal farmer, use of local seeds, inadequate irrigation facilities, poor credit facilities, improper post-harvest management and also traditional method of cultivation. It is high time it is observed that reasons for discouragement of onion cultivation for various time is due to distress selling of the crops during the season due to proper marketing facilities. The farmers are compelled to sell their product to the local hoarders at less remunerative prices.
The micro-watersheds namely Palna MWS ,Dakapahad MWS , Matia MWS & Lohradabri MWS are pre-dominantly occupied with onion cultivation in rabi season. Since the climatic and soil condition of these areas are very much suitable for onion cultivation, farmers of these MWS used to take up onion cultivation in large scale. This practice of onion cultivation by the farming community is long back without proper package and practices. Since last twenty years the farmers were accustomed to onion cultivation in a very conventional manner using traditional seed, as a result they get lower yield and there by low income form the crop. Traditionally the farmers used to grow variety like N-53 which was giving good yield but having no storing quality. As a result of this they used to sell the produce at a meager price i.e @ Rs3.00 to Rs 4.00 per KG.
Different training programmes on onion cultivation were imparted to the farmers through Capacity building programme of IWMP. Exposure visit programme also under taken to places like Kurshud and Titlagarh for seeing best practices of Onion cultivation and storage.. Though the farmers were aware the variety AFLR(Agri Found Light Red), they did not use the variety for the reason that water requirement for the said variety is more and times span for production is more. The market price during last two years was meticulously examined by the project functionaries and mobilized the farming community to take up the AFLR variety having more storing quality and taking into consideration the demand of the market. In the initial stage the farmers were not in a position to accept the proposal. But, due to sustained follow up by the Watershed Team Members, district level functionaries and officials from horticultural department finally some farmers agreed to replace the seed from early variety to recent AFLR variety during the initial stage of intervention. A series of village level farmers meet was organized to mobilize the farming community. The primary onion producer’s society was also formed at watershed level. The PIA team was largely supported by WCDC and District Horticulture Department. The watershed and block level training programme was organized for imparting technical guidance and support to farmers. The comparison between N53 and AFLR variety was discussed with the farmers in term of the cost benefit analysis during the training programme. Due to its impact, the farming community was organized and a conducive environment was created for adopting AFLR variety in cluster basis in the locality. Subsequently, almost all the farmers accepted the AFLR variety.
The activity was initiated with the available resources of IWMP , supply of AFLR seeds by the Horticulture Department at a subsidized rate to the farmers. The Resource Person from Horticulture Dept. also helped a lot to provide technical assistance to the farmers group. The financial assistance on an average of Rs.8000/ per farmer was provided from the production and micro enterprises fund from IWMP to meet the procurement of seeds, manure, labour cost and water supply etc. 63 farmers in different watersheds were supported with seeds and financial assistance for 490 Ac. The seasonal procurement was near about 200 tones with a value of Rs.2 crore. A sustained effort and hand holding support for two consecutive production seasons have turn the think in to reality and the overall impact is as follows:-
- The farmers were organized and formed Producers Cooperative Society
- Acceptance of newly introduced AFLR variety in a larger scale
- Area under production has increased up to 20%. Better scale of operation
- Collective marketing and market linkage, hiked the price from Rs.4 per Kg to Rs.10 per Kg during the season
- Avoidance of distress sells and better remunerative prices of the product
- Lead to sustainable livelihood option
The same can be replicated to other watersheds also depending upon the ago ecological zone, soil suitability and weather condition of the locality. The need based planning, sustained monitoring and convergence with the line department is also very crucial for replication and up scaling of the activities.