Onion Improvement in India

Vijay Mahajan, A.J. Gupta, K.E. Lawande, Major Singh


In India, onion is cultivated in three season's viz. kharif, late kharif and rabi. Several local types which are very well adapted to specific regions are currently being cultivated on a wide area. Some of them include, Patna White, Bombay Red, Patna Red, Poorna Red, Nasik Red, Bellary Red, Gujarat White, Bangalore Rose, Krishna Puram rose etc. Systematic research on onion was started in 1960 at Pimpalgaon Baswant and later by NARS including ICAR-DOGR. Organised breeding efforts are being made manly at research centres of NARS viz., ICAR-DOGR (Rajgurunagar), ICAR-IIHR (Bangalore), ICAR-IARI (New Delhi), NHRDF (Nasik), MPKV (Rahuri), PAU (Ludhiana), RARS (Durgapura), VPKAS (Almora), TNAU (Coimbatore) etc. Various population improvement methods were followed for development of varieties suitable for different seasons, export, processing etc. In India, till now about 70 varieties of onion including 2 F1 hybrids and 6 varieties of multiplier onion have been developed and released for different colour of bulb and seasons by various organizations. Some of the work at molecular level were also carried out using RAPD, IISR, SSR, SSAP, SRAP. Further there is need to develop varieties for specific requirements in India.

Onion is commodity of masses and used as salad and cooked in various ways in curies, fried, boiled, baked and used in soup making and pickles. Besides fresh consumption, onion provides very good raw material for processing industry as it is processed in the form of dehydrated powder, rings, shreds and onion in vinegar or brine. Alliums are among the cultivated plant species under family Alliaceae cultivated for food, medicines and religious purpose since early times. These crops are mostly strong flavoured due to presence of sulphur containing compounds responsible for distinctive smell and pungency (Robinowitch and Currah 2002). Onion as medicinal herb is known to ancient world, as it is mentioned in the medicinal treaties like “Charak Samhita”of third or fourth century A. D. (Ray et al.1980a and 1980b). Sanskrit language equivalent signifying Vedic period and Aryan usage is available for onion as “Palandu” (Aiyar and Vaganarayana 1956). The important principle components in onion are allicin, ajoene, allixin thiosulfinates, and sulphites etc. which make it a potential herb. These components help fighting cancer, high blood cholesterol and sugar, liver problems, rheumatism and intestinal problems by regular consumption (Corzo-Martinez et al. 2007). It also has the pesticidal and fungicidal properties (Block 2010). Onion has primary centre of origin in Central Asia and secondary centre in the near East (McCollum 1976). It occupies a vast area in Western Asia, extending from Palestine to India. The short day onion produced in India assumes prime importance on account of their spiciness and unique taste in many Asiatic a well as European countries.


Onion, Breeding, Export Quality, Molecular Markers

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