By Shezna Shums
The Ministry of Agriculture is to increase the local cultivation of red onion seedlings to help farmers cultivate profitable red onion crops.
Red onion seedlings are usually brought down from India, which costs Rs 10,000 for one kilo of seedlings.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Research Division is now starting to cultivate their own red onion seedling nurseries in Sri Lanka to reduce this high cost of importing seedlings.
Currently onion bulbs are mainly used by local farmers for onion cultivations, in such a situation 1200 kilos of onion bulbs are needed for a hectare of red onion cultivation, but if onion seedlings are to be used, only five Kilos of seedlings are needed for a hectare of onion cultivation.
The Ministry of Agriculture is to bring down these seedlings in order for them to start harvesting more seedlings for the local market.
This move is done is order to gradually stop importing red onion seedlings and improve the local seedling nurseries.
At the moment projects are underway where these red onion seedlings are being produced, and since July last year the Ministry of Agriculture has provided farmers from the districts of Ratnapura, Kolonna and Madane with these red onion seedlings to be used in their onion cultivations.
The farmers had managed to cultivate a total of 5000 kilos of red onions with the use of these seedlings, whilst also proving to be more profitable when compared to using onion bulbs for cultivation as they had been previously doing.
Following the success of this new method of red onion cultivation the Ministry of Agriculture is now looking at further improving red onion cultivations, with these seedlings in the Jaffna peninsula as well.
During the recent months many big onion and red onion cultivations had been damaged following the heavy rains and floods experienced in many parts of the Island.
Owing to this situation a short supply of big onions and red onions prevailed and causing the prices of these two items to increase, compelling the government to import them from India and Pakistan.