Vegetable crops grown around the world mainly for its requirements in the daily consumption and for its health benefits for human beings
Disease and insect pest problems. Disease and insect pests are the most important yield reducing factor for different vegetable crop production systems including of onion. Onion is the crop that can be easily susceptible to diverse biotic and abiotic stresses. Diverse types of pathogens are affecting the crop by causing diverse diseases based on the available conducive environmental interactions with susceptible cultivars. As a result, several farmers in Gojjam zone of Amhara region has shifted to shallot rather than onion production due to disease severity and other observed problems in the area (Maru, 2014). The same is true for other parts of the country which take the lion share of onion yield reduction. Some diseases were identified as causing huge loss unless treated based on their types and causes of diseases. Based on this, different fungal pathogens are attacking the crop by causing the economic losses.
Botrytis leaf blight or neck rot is one of fungal disease which affects only onion in cool climate areas on worldwide. The disease is primarily the storage disease which may infect by spores blown from infected onion debris and improperly disposed of cull piles (Eshetu, 2015). This disease identified in Ethiopia and the management option has been set which mostly overcome by preventing the disease introduction to the field site and chemical control methods like different types of fungicide have been recommended to reduce the pressure it causes to the yield and productivity of the crop plant. Fusarium basal rots (fusarium oxysporum) also identified as another fungal disease-causing pathogen of onion in Ethiopia. The yield losses by basal rot can be more than 50% which can effects by attacking of the cloves and seedlings, causing pre and post-emergence damping off, root rot of older plants, and steam plate discoloration and basal rot of bulbs in the field and storage (zeleke and derso, 2015). The disease can be controlled by preventing the disease occurrences and by applying of fungicide chemical. Vegetables, generally, are susceptible to a wide range of pests and diseases, and require intensive pest management.
Similarly, Thrips is one of the challenging insect pests of onion which mainly affects the leaf parts of the plant that reduces the yield and productivity of the crop. Currently, however, different research work has been undertaking by focusing on the identification of different disease and insect pests and their mitigation strategies to overcome the observed problems and to boost the production and productivity of the crop in the country (Eshetu, 2015).
Postharvest handling problem. Postharvest losses which occur due to the perishable nature of onion and lack of appropriate postharvest handling practices and processing technologies are common in onion production which is an important production constrains causing yield reduction. According to researcher’s major causes are mainly connected to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques, storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions, infrastructure, packaging and marketing systems (Gebru et al., 2015). Similarly, some researchers reported the most common causes of postharvest losses such as lack of sorting to eliminate defects before storage and the use of inadequate packaging materials, rough handling and inadequate cooling and temperature maintenance (Kitinoja et al., 2002).
Marketing problem. The socio-economic attributes of the farming families related to their families and farms are generally considered important in the level of receptivity of innovations and boosting farm productivity (Farooq et al, 2006). The major reason for the increased yield of onion is farmers' awareness of the benefits of production and marketing of vegetables (onion) and that farmers have given more attention to vegetable production like onion due to its comparative advantages to generate a higher income within short period of time. This might also be the reason why some farmers rent in land to expand onion.[ Food and Nutrition Journal ]
Farmers grow onion crop for the purpose of selling to get cash. However, onion production is seriously affected by price fluctuation every year. The middlemen were the major collectors of onion produce from each grower with low price.[ Agriculture Agribusiness Journal ]
Summary and Conclusions. Onion is among of the most important vegetable crops grown around the world mainly for its requirements in the daily consumption and for its health benefits for human beings. Due to this fact, its production is concentrated into the three world top producers (China, India, and the USA) for both their daily consumption and/or for export markets purposes. In Ethiopia, its production history is stretched back to 1970’s when foreigners brought the planting material into the country from Sudan and since its intensive production has been started. Later on, the improved cultivars were released by Melkassa agricultural research center which has been incorporated into the farming system of the country. Even though these improved varieties were introduced, different smallholder growers are still using the planting material which has been obtained from their local markets and informally imported seed which is not checked and non-resistant to different diseases and insect pests. Moreover, lack of appropriate agronomic practices, the absence of irrigation water scheduling and a little attention given to the crop production makes the country below average producers even in Africa.
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