Onion is one of the most important vegetables consumed daily in India. It is harvested thrice a year. For a year-round supply of onions in the market, it is important to store them correctly. Onions are perishable in nature and losses occur during storage in the form of physiological weight loss, rotting, and sprouting. These losses depend on the variety of onions. Post-harvest management is a long and important process including steps like curing, sorting, grading, storage, handling, and transportation. Currently, there are six post harvest stages of onion in India:
Curing is a must after harvesting onions. Curing is the drying process intended to dry off the necks and outer scale leaves of the bulbs. This process removes excess moisture from the outer skin and neck of onion bulbs. It increases the storage life of onions. Curing also helps in improving the color of the onion skin.
After curing is done properly, onions are graded and classified by grading machine and by hand. In this process, the outer dry scales are rubbed off. Injured (onions with cuts), thick-necked, double-bulbed, and decayed bulbs are removed. For local markets, the onions are graded based on their size. For example,
- Extra-large onions have a diameter greater than 6 cm.
- Medium onions are between 4-6 cm in diameter.
- Small onions are between 2-4 cm.
Onions are packed in jute bags for transportation. In the domestic market, 40 kg of onions (known as one mann in mandis) are packed into open mesh jute bags of 200-300 gms weight. For international trade, common big onions from 5-25 kg are packed in open mesh jute bags. You can read more about onion packaging and transportation here.
Onions in plastic bags are spoiled quickly due to poor ventilation. Also, darkness helps the onion last longer. Onions should not be dropped from a height of more than 6 feet. This can lead to bruising or rotting. Keep stacks of bags or boxes at five feet or less.
Onions are mostly stored in ventilated storage structures but moderating humidity is still a challenge. While big warehouses have this facility, the farmers don’t have such facilities. These are the different types of storage structures:
- Naturally ventilated structures: These structures are ventilated but there is no control over temperature and humidity. The farmers construct these ventilated storage structures based on the harvest output.
- Bottom and side ventilated storage structures: These have a provision of ventilation but as the temperature can’t be moderated, it results in a 46% loss of onions during storage. You can read more about Onion storage facilities here.
Even after doing all this, the produce needs to be sold to the right buyer. Therefore, trade is the most important part of the process. Farmers or suppliers can find it hard to sell to correct buyers. However, Bijak connects farmers or suppliers to commission agents and to institutional buyers. Bijak is India’s most trusted agri-trading app that acts as a meeting point for farmers, Buyers (commission agents), and Suppliers to trade in over 150 commodities. You can download our app from Google Playstore and Apple App Store.
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