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The Onion

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Item Code: NAM263
Author: N. K. Krishna Kumar, Jai Gopal and V. A. Parthasarthy
Publisher: Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9788171641598
Pages: 347 (38 B/W and 51 Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch X 7.0 inch
Weight 700 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The name “Onion” originated from the Latin name unio, meaning oneness or unity, or a kind of single onion. A native of Central Asia, onion is now grown in more than 140 countries under temperate tropical conditions. In India onions have been adapted from very early times, before Christian era. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the main onion-growing states in the country. Barring north-eastern states and kerala, basically all states grow onion. A crop of high culinary importance in daily diet creates ripples in political circles when consumers face shortage of onion and market price goes high.

The Onion’ covers all aspects of the crop from its origin to marketing. In this eighteen chapters written by experts in the respective fields of Onion, this monograph reviews status and prospects of Onion research and development. It covers genetic resources, genetics, biotechnology, breeding, crop production, crop protection , seed production, physiology, biochemistry, processing and storage as well as price volatility aspects of Onion. Each chapter presents complete information from historical aspects to latest times, supported by data, illustrations and references. Readers will find all information on onion in one spine in this book. This publication hopefully would be a source of rich information for students and researchers, and would be of great value for frames and entrepreneurs alike.



Onion is an important vegetable-cum-condiment. Humorously said "Onion brings tears to policy-makers when it is absent (in the market) and rocks administration". Thus is the importance of this crop.

Onion belongs to the genus Allium, which is one of the oldest cultivated plant species. Onion and garlic are the most important crops in use as an ingredient in various dishes since ages by many cultures across the world. India is the second largest producer of onion after China. It is estimated that onion is -grown in India over 9.92lakh hectares (22.4% of the world area) with a total production of 166.54 lakh tonnes. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are the main onion-growing states. In general, barring north-easten states and Kerala, all other states grow onion. Onion consumption is very common in our daily dietary habits and any fluctuation in its price has great ramifications at the National level.

Systematic research on onion was started in 1960 at Pimpalgaon, Baswant and Nashik and later at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, and Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR), Bengaluru. With the establishment of the National Research Centre for Onion and Garlic (NRCOG), later christened as the Directorate of Onion and Garlic Research (DOGR), the research on onion intensified further. The DOGR is also the nodal agency for the All-India Network Research Project on Onion and Garlic (AINRPOG). The National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), Nashik, is another organization contributing significantly in research and development of onion in the country. These all efforts have led to the development of a very strong research base in India. The DOGR at Rajgurunagar (Maharashtra) coupled with Ainrpog is doing yeoman service to onion-growers.

I congratulate Dr N.K. Krishna Kumar, Dr Jai Gopal and Dr V.A. Parthasarathy for editing this great monograph on onion. The chapters have been contributed by well-known experts in the field. I congratulate the DKMA for bringing out this publication. The book has been thoughtfully organized, covering all aspects of onion. I am sure this would be of great interest to all onion-workers around the world as well as students, researchers and policy-makers in India.



Onion is an important component of the daily intake throughout the world, particularly in the South Asia, where no culinary preparation is complete in itself if onion is not included. Onion believed to have originated in the Central Asia (around Turkmenistan-Afghanistan) is currently cultivated all-over the world under the short-day and long-day conditions. It is the single commodity exported in large quantities from India, and is also one among the market-sensitive items that can create ripples in the trade. However, it does not mean that it is less important in the domestic market; its demand is increasing day-by-day in India too as consumers are realizing its multiple utilities-medicinal, therapeutic, etc. It is a common food item for the rich and the poor, but its price volatility often renders it beyond the reach and means of the common man. Low productivity, poor seed quality, skewed cultivation and artificial scarcity are some of the pointers, which since long are demanding attention.

Onion has been in cultivation in India for decades but formal efforts on its R&D were initiated in 1960 at Pimpalgaon, Baswant and Nashik by the State Department of Horticulture, Government of Maharashtra. Later systematic research was conducted and is still continuing at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru and the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, Nashik. To give further impetus to research on onions, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research established a National Research Centre for Onion and Garlic in 1994 and an All India Network Research Project (AINRP) on Onion and Garlic was initiated in 2009 to validate stability and adoptability of different production technologies. Over the years, R&D efforts have made significant impact through development of varieties, and various production/protection and post-harvest management technologies. Innovative farmers and private sector undertakings have also contributed significantly in production and overall development of onion-crop in India. Still large gaps do exist in overall understanding of onion production, protection, post-harvest handling, marketing and value-addition.

In the National Workshop of All-India Network Research Project on Onion and Garlic at the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vishwa Vidyalya, Kalyani, West Bengal, in April 2013, a need was felt for an Indian publication on the Onion, capturing significant research findings with comprehensive presentation. This book "The Onion" is the translation of that vision. This compilation is perhaps the first of its kind and covers most of the R&D on the onion in India.

This volume has been divided into 18 Chapters focus sing on different aspects 0.0of topical interest-Genetic Resource Management, Genetics, Breeding, Biotechnology and Development of Varieties; Technologies on Crop Production and Protection; Post-harvest Management and Value-addition; and Marketing and Export. A highlight has been the market analysis and the factors influencing onion price stability. Relevant data in all the chapters have been suitably supplemented with tables and graphical presentations. Efforts have also been made to bring uniformity in the contents of the chapters. The information contained here is a reflection of the decades of painstaking research. The editorial board is especially indebted to all the authors who have put in their best efforts in gathering relevant information from all possible sources.

We are extremely thankful to Dr S Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE, Government of India and Director General, ICAR, for his support and encouragement. We are highly thankful to the Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture, ICAR, New Delhi, for publishing this valuable tome. We acknowledge the valuable suggestions of our colleagues, Drs Ranvir Singh, B.K. Pandey and Vikramaditya Pandey at the Horticultural Science Division of the ICAR Headquarters, New Delhi. The help rendered by Dr E. Srinivas Rao, IIHR, Bengaluru; Shri Dhiraj K. Sharma, CISH, Lucknow and Mrs Shashi A. Verma, DKMA, New Delhi, was invaluable. The technical support provided by Shri Shaikh, Horticultural Science Division, in day-to-day handling of the manuscript is duly acknowledged.

Although we have tried our best to present this treasure of information in as perfect a manner as possible, it is open to improvement. As editors, we have tried to make the presentation comprehensive and error-free, but should the readers find any lacunae, we would be happy to address them in revised editions.




  Foreword v
  Preface vii
  Acronyms ix
Chapter 1 Origin, History and Distribution 1
Chapter 2 Onion R&D in India-Status and Prospects 9
Chapter 3 Biosystematics, Botany and Genetic Resources 30
Chapter 4 Genetics and Breeding of Open-pollinated Varieties 56
Chapter 5 Breeding for Hybrid Technology 82
Chapter 6 Aggregatum Onion and Shallots 104
Chapter 7 Biotechnology 121
Chapter 8 Production Technology 145
Chapter 9 Nutrient Management 162
Chapter 10 Seed Production 176
Chapter 11 Onion Seed Industry and Trade 191
Chapter 12 Fungal Diseases 197
Chapter 13 Viral Viruses 212
Chapter 14 Insect and Nematode Pests 223
Chapter 15 Post-harvest Management and Processing 247
Chapter 16 Biochemistry and Nutraceutical Properties 272
Chapter 17 Marketing and Export 295
Chapter 18 Onion Production and Price Volatility: Implications for Technology and Policy 316
  Contributors 324
  Subject Index 327
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