Know How Onions Are Transported In India

How Are Onions Transported In India How Are Onions Transported

India is one of the leading producers of onions. Onion crops are utilized in different parts of the world as both vegetables and spices. This is the reason why their demand keeps on rising not just within India, but outside too. In 2019-20, India had exported around 10 lakh tons of onions to countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, the UAE, and Sri Lanka. In this article, we will focus on how for onion trading, onions are transported at the domestic level and how they are exported.

Popular modes of onion transportation

  • Bullock carts or tractor trolleys are used for the transportation of onions in local markets. However, in this case, 30%-40% of onions perish in transit.
  • Trucks are used for onion transportation within the country for comparatively long distances. These trucks are usually refrigerated to keep onions fresh and intact for the long trip.
  • Railways wagons are used for inter-state transportation. Indian Railways is slowly stepping into onion transportation. Onions of Nashik, which account for 30% of the total onion production in the country are transported by freight trains to hinterlands. Also, the South Central Railway (SCR) has been actively taking forward the Kisan Rail initiative by starting trains from different stations of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra. It is to support the farming community in marketing their agricultural produce.
  • Ships are used to export onions to the Gulf and South-East Asian countries. They are carried in refrigerated containers, at specific temperatures and appropriate ventilation facilities.

Packing onions before transportation

Onions are packed in wide-meshed jute fabric or plastic bags, cartons, crates, boxes, or baskets before moving. For easy handling, they are packed in smaller quantities, in smaller bags. 40 kg of onions (known as one mann in mandis) can be safely moved in domestic markets using mesh jute bags weighing 200-300 gm. However, for exports, 5-25 kg onions are packed in open mesh jute bags. Bangalore Rose and Multiplier onions are packed in wooden baskets that can hold 14-15 kg. Nylon net bags are also good for packing onions as they offer good ventilation and result in less storage loss.

Cargo handling during transportation

Onions are carried in refrigerated cargo at temperatures between 0ºC and 3°C. As the moisture content in onions is very high, they are cured before being stuffed into a refrigerated container (commonly known as reefer containers). The process of curing involves removing moisture from the outermost layers of the onions to reduce the chances of fungal and bacterial infection. This takes place in open fields. However, in cool, damp climates, onions are dried with artificial heat blown at a temperature of 30°C in ventilated stores.

The curing process in onion trading ensures that onions can be stored for up to 10 months. However, The duration also depends on the temperature at which they are stored. Onions can be stored for up to 50 days if kept between 12°C and 20°C, and for more than 200 days, at a temperature between 0°C and 4°C. It is important to note that a successful carriage of onions does not only depend on the temperature at which they are stored but also on the amount of ventilation they get.

The key is to ensure there is proper air circulation between and beneath the bags of onions. However, when cardboard cartons are used for storage and transportation, onions are required to be properly stowed for facilitating air circulation. Ventilation is also important to avoid the build-up of carbon dioxide within the reefer unit. This gas can be toxic to humans exposed to it when the containers are opened.

If the above conditions are not followed during the onion carriage, sprouting or decaying of the onions can occur. However, these are not just the only reasons. Sometimes, if the onions are not cooled off after the curing process and stored directly in a refrigerated container, their shelf life will be reduced considerably.

We hope you found this article informative. Please do comment below, and stay tuned for more articles from experts at Bijak. Bijak is India’s most trusted agri-trading app that brings together verified Buyers and Suppliers from across India to trade in over 150 commodities. You could download our app from Google Playstore and Apple App Store to start onion trading.