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Timely Monsoon Boosts Kharif Crops: Onion, Tomato, and Potato Sowing Increases

Bhubaneswar: Timely and abundant monsoon rains have given a significant boost to kharif crops this year, particularly benefitting key horticultural crops like onion, tomato, and potato. According to the Ministry of Agriculture’s assessment in collaboration with state governments, the targeted area for kharif sowing of these major vegetables has seen a notable increase compared to last year.

Despite a slightly lower production of onion in the rabi season of 2024 compared to the previous year, the domestic market availability remains comfortable. Onion, harvested in three seasons—rabi (March-May), kharif (September-November), and late kharif (January-February)—is crucial for price stability during lean periods. The rabi crop typically accounts for about 70% of the total onion production, while kharif and late kharif together make up the remaining 30%.

This year, the target area for kharif onion has been set at 3.61 lakh hectares, a 27% increase from last year. Karnataka, the leading kharif onion-producing state, has completed sowing in 30% of its targeted area of 1.50 lakh hectares, with other major producing states also making good progress.

The current market supply consists of the rabi 2024 crop, harvested from March to May 2024. With an estimated rabi production of 191 lakh tonnes, domestic consumption, which is about 17 lakh tonnes per month, is comfortably met. The export of onions remains restrained at around 1 lakh tonnes per month. Favorable dry weather conditions during and after the rabi harvest have helped reduce storage losses. Onion prices are stabilizing as increased quantities of rabi onions are being released into the market by farmers, spurred by higher mandi prices and the onset of monsoon rains, which increase the risk of storage loss due to high atmospheric moisture.

Potatoes, though primarily a rabi crop, are also grown in smaller quantities during the kharif season in states like Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. The kharif potato harvest from September to November helps augment market availability. This year’s targeted area for kharif potato has increased by 12% over last year. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have almost completed their targeted sowing areas, with Karnataka and other states making good progress. Data from the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAFW) indicates that 273.2 lakh tonnes of rabi potatoes have been stored in cold storage, sufficient to meet consumption demands. Potato prices are regulated by the rate at which they are released from cold storage between March and December.

For kharif tomatoes, the Ministry of Agriculture, in consultation with state governments, has set a target area of 2.72 lakh hectares for this year, compared to 2.67 lakh hectares sown last year. Crop conditions are reportedly favorable in major producing areas such as Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and Kolar in Karnataka. Tomato harvesting has commenced in Kolar and will soon reach the markets. Feedback from district horticultural officials in Chittoor and Kolar indicates that this year’s tomato crop is significantly better than last year’s. The kharif tomato area is expected to increase substantially in major producing states, including Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.

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