Tiruchirapalli

Onion farmers flag under-utilisation of processing centre at Chettikulam

For more shelf-life: After grading, large-sized shallots are peeled for vacuum packing and smaller ones are converted into flakes and powder.  

Onion farmers in Perambalur district have sought efficient utilisation of the Common Food Processing Incubation Centre (CFPIC) launched during 2017 in Chettikulam village for producing value-added products of shallots such as onion powder, onion paste, vacuum-packed peeled onion and onion flakes, with extended shelf life ranging from one to six months.

The machinery installed at the centre by Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT), Thanjavur, has been grossly under-utilised due to issues such as gaps in round-the-clock power supply and shortcomings in marketing of the processed products, according to Shanmugam, an onion cultivator. The processing centre was attuned to ‘Mission Onion Programme,’ a concept to double farmers’ income by 2022, by the IIFPT, which functions under the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

With the Small Onion Stem and Root Cutter, Small Onion Peeler, and Solar Assisted Curing cum Storage Unit for Onions, a small quantity of shallots were initially processed every day into peeled onions, flakes and powder, for supply to a leading restaurant for its soup channel, and a Chennai-based entity supplying peeled onions to residents in apartments. After grading, the large-sized onions are peeled for vacuum packing and the smaller ones are converted into flakes and powder.

Since the start of the centre, 44 tonnes of shallots and 15 tonnes of garlic have been processed. The centre has a capacity to process 300 kg shallots per hour, and there were possibilities for scaling up the production multifold with the available machinery, according to official sources.

During September, Collector P. Sri Venkada Priya discussed with officials of Horticulture Department and Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agricultural Business the ways to optimise the utility of the processing centre.

Shelf-life

Every year, 70,000 tonnes of small onion is produced in over 8,000 hectares of land area. “At times when the procurement price falls below ₹20 per kg, farmers in the region suffer huge losses due to lack of post-harvest handling facilities. The peeled onion will last for one month under refrigeration, and shelf life of onion powder and onion flakes is six months. Onion paste lasts for five months.

“We have secured three-phase power supply for the processing centre and are in a position to scale up the output of processed shallots to about four to five tonnes a day. Having organised a few buyer-seller meets, we have also identified traders for procuring and marketing the processed products,” Singaram, Deputy Director, Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business, said.

“The tenders for operating the centre lapsed last month. We have called for a fresh tender,” Mr. Singaram said.


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 3:06:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/onion-farmers-flag-under-utilisation-of-processing-centre-at-chettikulam/article37705886.ece

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