Stung by huge losses incurred after thousands of tonnes of onions rotted in July and August this year, the state government is aiming to build additional storage units to enhance capacity by 38,000 tonnes this fiscal.
“The structures called ‘naturally ventilated storage’ will provide enough storage space for onions with a shelf life of six-seven months,” a horticulture department official told HT. While the government plans to build maximum storage units in Indore district, it is also focussing on providing extra incentives for building storage facilities in the tribal belt of the state.
Each storage unit will have a holding capacity of either 25 tonnes or 50 tonnes. The 50 tonne storage unit will involve an investment of Rs 3.75 lakh while the government will provide a subsidy of Rs 1.75 lakh to every beneficiary to build onions storage units.
A bumper onion crop in May this year led prices crash to record lows, prompting chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to announce a purchase scheme with a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 6 per kg. However, lack of proper storage facility caused onions to rot during monsoon and the state government suffered a loss of about Rs 100 crore.
Even the decision to distribute onion for Re 1 per kg at fair price shops backfired as the shops refused to buy citing lack of storage space.
Officials say works for building onion storage units, which got delayed due to rains, have started in earnest. “Such storage units are needed at village levels to prevent onions and other commodities from getting damaged,” farmer Samar Singh said.
In many parts of the state, farmers had dumped onions as the market prices were so low that they could not even afford the transportation cost. Onion was cultivated on 1,11,000 hectares of area in MP this year and prices had nosedived to Re 0.50 per kg in some mandis.