Subsidy to construct low cost storage structures

By TheHindu on 24 Nov 2016
They will drastically reduce loss, officials tell onion farmers Officials inspecting the ventilated onion storage at Devipattinam in Tirunelveli district.

With onion cultivation area expanding in the district, the Department of Horticulture, expecting a significant increase in onion yield, has started persuading farmers and farmers’ clubs to construct ventilated storage with attractive subsidy, as this post-harvest management will drastically reduce the loss.

Since tropical conditions with sufficient soil moisture are so conducive for growing onion, farmers here have increased the cultivation area under onion rather than other crops during this season. The rainfall of 248.06 mm rainfall received during April - May last was sufficient for onion cultivation. As of now, onion has been cultivated on 1,731 hectares in Keezhappavur, Tenkasi, Alangulam, Shencottai and Vasudevanallur blocks against the 703 hectares during the corresponding period last year.

The post-harvest management (PHM) practices will avoid storage losses up to 20 per cent.

“We’re promoting Post Harvest Management practices under the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) Scheme. With 50 percent subsidy to the maximum of Rs. 87,500 under NHM, farmers can construct low cost ventilated onion storage to keep 25 tonnes onions as the estimated cost of constructing a structure with this capacity is Rs. 1.75 lakh. Generally, onion produced in the summer can be stored up to 3 to 4 months and it can be brought in the market during scarcity for getting better price,” S. Raja Mohamed, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelveli, said.

Accompanied by Mr. Mohamed, a team of officials, including C. Chandrasekaran, Joint Director of Agriculture, and M. Mohaideen, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Vasudevanallur (In-Charge), inspected two such onion storages, first of its kind in Tamil Nadu, constructed under Western Ghats Development Scheme, which is funded by Tamil Nadu Watershed Development Agency (TAWDEVA) at Devipattinam in Vasudevanallur block.

Two farmer groups namely Thattaankulam Onion Growers’ Association and Devipattinam West Onion Growers’ Association have come forward to construct storage at Devipattinam.

Certain problems, which arise during conventional storage of onion viz. loss in weight, sprouting and rotting of bulb can be avoided in this structure. To overcome these losses, onion must be stored in scientific manner for better prices during scarcity, suggests Mr. Mohamed.

Modern onion storage structures ensure aeration for the onions from all sides. It is necessary that lower base of onion storage structure should be raised from the ground level by 1.50 feet to 2 feet for that the foundation should be laid out according to soil type. Side wall should be made up with bamboo battens / iron angle with the support and help of iron angles. Its height should be 5 feet. Bamboo battens / iron angles should be arranged in such a way that onion should not come out of it and also proper air circulation should be ensured.

Material of the roof should be heat-resistant. There should not be tall civil work close to structure. The width of onion storage structure should be 610 cm. for natural air circulation. In high humid area, width of storage structure should be less otherwise there should be provision of mechanism for air circulation. The length of onion storage structure should be right angle to the direction of wind (East - West) and the length of structure should not be in the direction of wind etc. are some of the points to be taken care of while constructing the storage structures.

The Department of Horticulture had timely onion growers interaction meetings twice at Keezhappavur with the bank officials for constructing ventilated storages. Nearly seven individual farmers have come forward so far for these constructions. Nationalised banks are also ready to lend helping hands to these farmers under cluster banking scheme, says Mr. Raja Mohamed.

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