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This Rabi season will see bumper chilli, onion crop

Mahesh Kulkarni  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

Karnataka is heading for a record horticulture crops during the present rabi season. The state is likely to harvest a bumper chilli, onion and tomato crops during the present year.
However, the potato production is likely to be average as the sowing operations are proceeding at a slow pace this year.
The sowing operations for all the four crops like potato, onion, tomato and chilli are in their various stages across the growing areas in the state. While the potato sowing has been very slow, the state farmers have already exceeded the target for chilli.
In major growing districts, inter-cultivation, land preparation, nursery bed preparation and transplanting operations are presently under progress.
However, harvesting operations have commenced in some of the important districts where early sowing was done. The sowing operations are likely to extend till middle of January. Normally, the rabi season ends in December.
According to state agriculture department, potato sowing was completed on 2,593 hectares, which is only 19.54 per cent of the normal area as on December 8, 2007. While the normal coverage during this time should have been 6,159 hectares. However, during the same period last year, the coverage was 9,568 hectares.
The main reason attributed to slowdown in potato coverage was delay in the supply of seeds by seed producers in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh at the beginning of the season. Potato seeds are normally imported from these states as there is no production of seeds in Karnataka. This year, the prices of potato seeds have been very high in the region of Rs 1,500-1,600 per quintal compared to Rs 1,200 per quintal during the kharif season.
As regards to onion, sowing was completed in 10,846 hectares, which is about 95.56 per cent of the normal area till December 8. The state had pegged the normal coverage at 5,956 hectares, about 50 per cent of the target. The coverage during the corresponding period last year was 10,046 hectares.
The state agriculture department, however, attributes the healthy coverage of onion to minimum incidence of pests and diseases during the rabi season. However, spraying and inter-cultivation operations are in full swing.
Availability of inputs such as seeds, pesticides and insecticides have resulted in normal sowing operations this year. The state government is providing a subsidy of Rs 1,000 per acre under the National Horticulture Mission towards the plant protection measures to the farmers of the state for all the vegetables.
The area sown under tomato was 84.96 per cent at 13,949 hectares till December 8, 2007. The state had set the target for tomato at 16,418 hectares. During the corresponding period of last year the area sown was 12,988 hectares.
The state's farmers have recorded a massive jump in chilli sowing during the present rabi season.
As compared to the target of 8,250 hectares, the sowing was already completed on 10,087 hectares, which is 122.26 per cent of the target. As on December 8, 2006, the area sown under chilli was just 5,317 hectares. During the present year, the state is likely to produce nearly 1.50 lakh tonnes of chilli.
In Karnataka, potato is grown in the districts of Kolar, Bangalore Rural and Urban, Hassan, Belgaum and Bidar. Onion is grown in about 19 districts, tomato in 23 districts and chilli in 24 districts.

First Published: Tue, December 25 2007. 00:00 IST