The Department of Horticulture has decided to promote modern Onion Grading Machine to help farmers in the district.
Chitradurga district, which stands fourth in the State in onion production after Dharward, Gadag and Bagalkot, produces around 2.2 lakh tonnes of onion every year, which is cultivated on about 16,500 hectares of land.
“Despite having such large-scale production, onion farmers do not have grading machines for the segregation of the produce. They are depending on labourers for the job. This old tradition is not only time-consuming and laborious but also expensive,” said technical assistant in the Horticulture Department P. Vishwanath.
On the type of the machines being introduced, Mr. Vishwanath said that the Rajkot model has been introduced which has rotating option and vibrating option to segregate the onions based on their size.
Rotating type machines segregate about 10 quintals of onion per hour and costs about Rs. 70,000, while the vibrating type costs about Rs. 1.10 lakh and segregates 40 quintals per hour. The machines could be run on electricity and fuel also. Though the machines are expensive, considering the cost of labour, it is cost-effective, Mr. Vishwanath claimed.
He said that each labourer charges Rs. 200 to segregate about six quintals of onion a day, while the same work could be completed at Rs. 25 using the machine.
S.L. Prakash, an onion farmer who has installed a machine at his house, believes that the machine has saved plenty of time and money. “These days, finding labour is a tough task, even if we get them, they will be expensive. Even after that, we can't get the precise segregation of the onions based on their size as demanded in the market. The grading machine solves all these problems,” he said.
Asked how the grading machine increases the profit, he said that the vendors pay higher prices for the onion which is segregated properly based on size. The machines grade the onion precisely to the size demanded in the market, which is not possible by the manual labour.
“Another problem is that in manual labour, we need large sheds for spreading the onion before grading them, but if the machine is used, we can directly pour the onion into it and the graded onion can be collected directly in bags”, he said.
Mr. Prakash feels that though the machines are cost effective, however, the present market rate is too high for farmers. “Many farmers will come forward to purchase such machines if the Government offers subsidy,” he said.
To this, Mr. Vishwanath said that the Department had submitted a proposal to the Government seeking subsidy on the machines. He hoped that it would be included under the subsidy for the Mechanisation of Horticulture scheme next year.
He said that the National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), Hubli, and experts of the Horticulture University had given their recommendation to the Horticulture Department about the machine.
For further details, Mr. Prakash could be contacted on 9590447895.
FIROZ ROZINDAR IN CHITRADURGA
Department of Horticulture to promote modern Onion Grading Machine in Chitradurga