Govt taking adequate measures to control onion prices: FM Nirmala Sitharaman — The Economic Times
Govt taking adequate measures to control onion prices: FM Nirmala Sitharaman
- 1 Govt taking adequate measures to control onion prices: FM Nirmala Sitharaman
- 2 Nirmala Sitharaman said there are several structural issues related to storage of onions and the government is trying to address them. Steps taken by the government to check rising prices of onion include ban on exports, imposition of stock limit, and import and transfer of onions from surplus to deficit areas, FM said.
- 3 Onion Pests and Diseases, Symptoms, Controls
- 4 Onion crypto-hunter: control measures
NEW DELHI: The government is taking adequate measures to control the price of onions, including imposition of stock limits and imports, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
She said there are several structural issues related to storage of onions and the government is trying to address them. Steps taken by the government to check rising prices of onion include ban on exports, imposition of stock limit, and import and transfer of onions from surplus to deficit areas, Sitharaman said in her reply to the debate on the first batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants.
The government on Tuesday reduced the stock holding limit for retailers and wholesalers to 5 tonnes and 25 tonnes, respectively, to curb rising onion prices.
On the issue of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), the minister said loans worth Rs 5 lakh crore have been disbursed in October and November, with a major chunk—over Rs 72,000 crore—being disbursed to them.
Talking about non-performing assets (NPA) under the government’s Mudra loan scheme, she said against the total loans disbursed, only 2.52% are NPAs and the total amount outstanding is 6%.
Sitharaman had last week sought Parliament’s approval to spend an additional ?21,246.16 crore in the current fiscal, including over Rs 8,820 crore in the newly-formed Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The minister said the government had infused Rs 21,157 crore to improve the health of IDBI Bank, which saw a rampant increase in NPAs due to reckless lending between 2008 and 2013. LIC infused Rs 21,624 crore in the bank.
This has helped reduce the bank’s NPA ratio to 5.97% in September 2019—from 17.3 % in 2015.
“Therefore, under the prompt corrective action, IDBI has come out, because of fund infusion. As a national responsibility, we want this fund infusion,” she said.
Talking about fund infusion in insurance companies, Sitharaman said, to maintain the regulatory solvency of the three public sector insurance companies— United India Insurance, National Insurance and Oriental Insurance—this infusion is required. “To write any new business, the pressure being faced on their balance sheets and margins will need to be eased out . To bring in sustained growth and momentum, we need this infusion,” Sitharaman said.
The government has sought Rs 4,557 crore to be infused in the IDBI Bank through recapitalisation bonds, and Rs 2,500 crore for re-capitalsation of state-owned insurers.
The Union Budget for FY20, presented in July, had estimated a total government spending of Rs 27.86 lakh crore, excluding expenses of public sector companies.
Commenting on the issue of foreign investment, the minister said FDI net inflows amounted to $17 billion in the first half of 2018-19, which rose to $20.9 billion in the same period of the current fiscal.
Around 62 million individuals have been provided employment under the MNREGA scheme in the current financial year, Sitharaman said. Moreover, the government has saved Rs 141,676 crore since the time direct benefit transfer has been operational.
Onion Pests and Diseases, Symptoms, Controls
Onion Pests and Diseases:
Today, let us talk about the most common Onion Pests and Diseases , symptoms, and thier controls.
There are many diseases that affect onion plants. Onion plant diseases affect due to warm, moist weather and all most all diseases have similar symptoms, that has spots and lesions on leaves and bulbs, and affected parts look like they are water-soaked, browning foliage and toppling.
Symptoms of this fungal disease:
Black discoloration on the neck before harvesting; lesions on outer scales; black streaks on the outer dry scales; the entire bulb surface will turn black and shriveling.
The Fungus is the main cause of this disease. Wash hands thoroughly after contacting affected parts of the plants.
The seeds should be treated with appropriate fungicide prior to planting that can reduce rot in mature bulbs; don’t bruise bulbs during and after harvest; Ideal temperature for storing below 15°C (59°F).
Botrytis leaf blight:
You can observe small white lesions with light green halos which may expand gradually; and can cause leaf blighting
High humidity and warm temperatures are the root cause of this disease; this fungus survives on piles of crop debris or in the soil; older leaves are highly susceptible to blight than younger leaves
Appropriate spacing between the plants (at least 30 cm between plants) will promote good air circulation and quick drying of foliage: Irrigating the plants at regular periods will control the diseases to some extent.
Use appropriate organic fungicide sprays when plants show early symptoms of disease.
You can observe pale spots or elongated patches on leaves; along with gray-purple fuzzy growth on leaf surface; leaves turning pale and then yellow; the tips of the leaves start to die. Cool temperatures and wet foliage are the root cause for this disease.
Selected well treated seeds; crop rotation; well-drained soil and appropriate spacing can control the disease to a certain extent.
Fusarium basal plate rot:
- Curving, yellow or necrotic leaves.
- The tips of the leaves will wilt and moves downward.
- The bulbs infected will turn brown and watery with rot spreading from the stem plates.
- Discoloration of stems.
Disease can occur in moderate to high temperatures
Crop rotation for at least 4 years and planting diseases resistant varieties.
Seeds will rot and are covered with mold; the tips of the roots will get discolored root and turn pink, yellow, red or black; the seedlings will get swollen and they wilt and die
Moist and wet soils will survive this fungal disease.
- Select the disease-free seed varieties.
- Treat seeds with fungicide.
- And rotate crops with cereals or grasses.
- Steam treatment or fumigation of soil can prevent this disease.
The roots turn to light pink roots and will turn darken and turn purple when disease progress; roots turn transparent and water soaked; plant turn weak.
The seedling affected by pink root will die; Matured plants affected by pink root become stunted and produce undersized, shriveled bulbs.
This disease is most severe when the onion crop more than 3 years a rotation of 3-6 years is highly recommended; plant disease resistant varieties; solarization and fumigation will reduce bacterial and viral infections in the soil.
You can observe small water-soaked lesions on leaves or stalk with white centers; large lesions may girdle leaf, spoil the tissue between the lesions and the leaf tip; severely infected foliage may die.
Wet foliage and high humidity will favor the diseases.
- Implement Crop rotations.
- Avoid wet foliage and use well-draining soil.
- Timely irrigation will keep plants healthy and away from diseases.
- Organic fungicides will control the disease.
You can observe small white flecks on leaves and stems which turn circular or elongated orange pustules; severe infestations will spoil the leaves and stems completely.
High humidity levels and low rainfall levels will favor the disease.
Plant only disease-free seed and plant in a well-draining fertile soil; weed control measure should be implemented; Application of protective organic fungicides.
The stems will turn dark, thickened and bend downwards; blisters are formed on the base of the older plants; lesion will mature and gets covered in black powdery fungal masses; the growth rate of the plants will get reduced; plants lead to death within 3-4 weeks.
Smut will remain in the soil for many years and is induced in plants through insects.
Crop rotation and use only health sets and transplants.
Yellowing of older leaves yellowing; slow growth; fall of leaves; fluffy white growth at the base of the bulb.
Organic Fungicide treatment will control white rot: Avoid transferring soil or plant material between sites; Treating the seeds with hot water before sowing; long term rotation.
Leaf streak and bulb rot:
Water-soaked, dark green oval lesions and streaks on leaves; burns at tips of the leaves; dark spots on wrapper scales of bulbs; discoloration on the inner scales.
This disease mainly effects during winter; rainfall promotes the spread of the diseases.
Don’t fertilize the plants during winter. Use appropriate organic bactericidal sprays to control these diseases.
Dwarf Onion yellow dwarf virus:
You can observe some yellow streaks at the base of the first leaves; leaves get flattened or crinkled; plant produces undersized bulbs; flower stalks turn yellow and twisted and produces small flower clusters and poor-quality seeds.
This viral disease is transmitted through aphids.
- You can control aphids by applying insecticides.
- Select the planting sets or transplants that free from virus.
- Growing plants from high quality seeds.
- Pick off the infected plants immediately.
Pythium seed rot:
Seed turn water-soaked and mushy and start to decompose; the roots turn gray and water-soaked; the seedling will collapse and die; older plants infected with this virus will be severely stunted.
High soil moisture and cool temperatures will encourage the development of diseases.
Control the soil moisture: Well-drained and fertile; treat the seeds organic fungicides before planting.
Pests in Onion:
Slower growth of the plant; bulbs rotting; you can observe cream-white pests on the stems and on bulbs.
- Avoid successive crops of onion or garlic in same location.
- The fields should be cleaned properly so that residual organic matter decomposes completely.
- Treating the seed with garlic seed cloves with hot water before planting may reduce mite populations
You can observe thin, white, winding trails on the leaves; this can cause premature leaf drop and reduced yields; adult leafminers are small black and yellow flies which lays its eggs in the leaf.
Check the transplants properly prior to planting; after harvesting removes the plant residue completely; Use organic insecticides as soon as you observeleafminers.
Stunted or wilting seedlings are the major symptoms for onion maggots; the plant will become weak and breaks off at the soil line, the bulbs will be deformed and susceptible to storage rots.
Adult onion maggot is a grayish fly, which lays white, elongate eggs at the base of the plant.
Good sanitation is best preventive method to control onion maggots; the affected onion bulbs should be removed. Commercial onion growers use mild granular insecticides and organic, insecticide sprays to control onion maggots. Floating row covers around the plants can protect from insects from laying eggs.
Thrips will discolor and distorted tissue of the leaves; and creates scars on the leaves.
Thrips feed on the onion bulbs at the early stage.; both the onion thrips and western flower thrips can affect the plants to a great extent.
Encourage the growth of natural like predatory mite, pirate bugs and lacewings which can control thrips; avoid planting onion near grain fields in the spring; foilage water or overhead watering of plants may can reduce thrips; You can also some organic insecticides to control thrips at the early stages.
Bottom Line: If you are growing Onions on large scale, you must be aware of Onion Pests and Diseases and thier control measures.
Onion crypto-hunter: control measures
Maitree Suttajit, Ph.D
Serveral mycotoxins in agricultural products cause health hazards to people and animals and economical problem. Dangerous mycotoxins are naturally present in foods, feeds and our environment. They are pathologically classified as hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, vomitoxin and neuro-musculotoxin, some of which are potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic (Table 1). Aflatoxin, for example, is the most potent hepatocarcinogen and mutagen among mycotoxins. Therefore, the contamination of mycotoxins should be minimized by designing a series of measures of prevention and control.
STRATEGIES FOR PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF MYCOTOXINS
To design strategies for the reduction or elimination of mycotoxins, knowledge about their fungal sources are needed. The growth of fungi in crops and agricultural products is the main cause of toxin formation and related to the concentration of the toxic substances. Many factors are involved in enhancing the formation of mycotoxins. They are plant susceptibility to fungi infestation, suitability of fungal substrate, temperate climate, moisture content and physical damage of seeds due to insects and pests.
Toxin-producing fungi may invade at pre-harvesting period, harvest-time, during post-harvest handling and in storage. According to the site where fungi infest grains, toxinogenic fungi can be divided into three groups: (a) field fungi; (b) storage fungi; and (c) advanced deterioration fungi. The first category includes species of plant pathogenic fungi, namely, genus Fusarium, e.g. F. moniliforme, F roseus, F. tricinctum and F. nivale. The «storage fungi» are principally the general Aspergillius and Penicillium, e.g. A. flavus and A. parasiticus. The «advanced deterioration fungi» normally do not infest intact grains but easily attack damaged ones and require high moisure content. The examples of the third group are A. clavatus, A. fumigatus, Chaetomium, Scopulariopsis, Rhizopus, Mucor, and Absidia.
The prevention of mycotoxins in our environment is a big task. In general, prevention of the contamination of fungi and their mycotoxins in agricultural commodities can be divided into these following three levels.
1. Primary prevention
The step of prevention should be initially carried out before the fungal infestation and mycotoxin contamination. This level of prevention is the most important and effective plan for reducing fungal growth and mycotoxin production. Several practices have been recommended to keep the conditions unfavorable for any fungal growth. These include:
- development of fungal resistant varieties of growing plants;
- control field infection by fungi of planting crops;
- making schedule for suitable pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest;
- lowering moisture content of plant seeds, after post harvesting and during storage;
- Store commodities at low temperature whenever possible;
- Using fungicides and preservatives against fungal growth;
- Control insect infestation in stored bulk grains with approved insecticides.
Table 1: Some mycotoxins, their sources and potential toxicities (1).
|Aspergillus parasiticus||and fatty liver|
|Citreoviridin||Penicillium viridicatum||Cardiac beri-beri|
|Cytochalasin E||Aspergillus clavatus||Cytotoxicity|
|Patulin||Penicilliumc-expansum||Brain & lung hemmorrhage|
|Penicillium patulum||and carcinogenicity|
|PR Toxin||Penicillium requeforti|
|Rubratoxin||Penicillium rubrum||Liver hemmorrhage and fatty infiltration|
|Rugulosin||Penicillium islandicum||Nephrosis & liver damage|
|Tremorgens||Penicillium and Aspergillus|
|Vomitoxin (Deoxynivalenol)||Fusarium graminearum||Vomiting|
2. Secondary prevention
If the invasion of some fungi begins in commodities at early phase, this level of prevention will then be required. The existing toxigenic-fungi should be eliminated or its growth to be stopped to prevent further deterioration and mycotoxin contamination. Several measures are suggested as follows:
- Stop growth of infested fungi by re-drying the products;
- Removal of contaminated seeds;
- Inactivation or detoxification of mycotoxins contaminated;
- Protect stored products from any conditions which favour continuing fungal growth.
3. Tertiary prevention
Once the products are heavily infested by toxic fungi, the primary and secondary preventions would not be then feasible. Any action would not be as effective as the practices mentioned above, since it will be quite late to completely stop toxic fungi and reduce their toxin formation. However, some measures should be done to prevent the transfer of fungi and their health hazardous toxins highly contaminated in products into our daily foods and environment. For example, peanut oil extracted from poor-graded peanut seeds always contains very high levels of aflatoxins and the oil-soluble toxin has to be eliminated by absorption and alkalinization during oilrefining process. Only a few practices are recommended:
- Complete destruction of the contaminated products;
- Detoxification or destruction of mycotoxins to the minimal level.
Since aflatoxin is the most well-known mycotoxin ever throughly studied and its prevention and control has been most successfully practiced in various countries, therefore, this paper will focus on such practices in certain detail for the prevention and control of aflatoxins mycotoxin contamination. Successful development will bring a great impact for the increased production of crops and safe and nutritious foods around the world. A number of researchers have been working on A. flavus-resistant or tolerant varieties of corn (2-3) and peanut (4-6)
It has been clear that the fungal-resistance of each variety is genotypic. However, the resistance to invasion of A. flavus has been attributed to several biochemical, environmental and physical factors. Uncontrollable factors could bring the failure in the utilization of selected fungal-resistant variety, as shown by laboratory screening, in the field.
Davis and his co-workers (7) reported the survey and comparison of aflatoxin contamination in upto 215 corn hybrids grown in Alabama, USA during 1976-81. Unfortunately, they could not find any hybrid tested resistant to aflatoxin formation. They were convinced that significant aflatoxin levels generally accompanied stress caused by high temperature, low rainfall, low moisture-holding capacity of sandy soils and insect infestation.
A differential pathogenic capacity of various toxigenic strains of A. flavus have been observed (8). Some strains would require physical damage for their infestation and others would not. The association of mycotoxin production and physical damage to grain and drought during grain ripening indicates that Aspergillus spp. are weak pathogens. During long grain storage, the biochemical activity of grain is much reduced, while invasion of storage fungi and mycotoxin contamination would increase. More data is needed on the biochemistry and pathogenesis of toxigenic fungi to understand and evaluate their genotype.
The germination and viability of maize seeds could be affected by attack of Aspergillus and Penicillium species and their fungal infestation have been found to be different among maize genotypes (9-10).
Similarly, genotypes of peanut and biochemical properties of its seed such as tannin content (11), thin pericarp (12), small amount of cuticular wax (13) and chemical composition of the pericarps and embryos (14) have been shown to inhibit fungal invasion by A. flavus and aflatoxin formation.
Recently, antifungal enzymes, chitinase (15) and B-1, 3-glucanase (16), found in a number of plant seeds, may act as defense against pathogenic fungi, since chitin and glucan are major polymeric components of many fungal cell walls. Such polysaccharides in fungal cell wall could be enzymically hydrolysed into smaller products resulting the damage or killing of fungal mycelia or spores. The role of these enzymes for genotype evaluation is now being studied. It is foreseen that seeds rich in such antifungal enzymes likely resist the infestation of fungi. If so, the seeds for breeding would be easily screened out and used a stock one.
Even there are many technical problems in searching for the «super» plant against pathogenicity, the development of fungal-resistant plant varieties utilizing genetic resistance to mycotoxin contamination is still possible and encouraged.
FUNGAL GROWTH INHIBITION
How to prevent growth and invasion of pathogenic fungi in agricultural commodities is very important in preventing mycotoxin contamination. The inhibition of fungal growth can be achieved by physical, chemical and biological treatments (17).
- Physical treatment. After the crops have been harvested, drying and proper storage and suitable transportation of the commodities are of prime importance. Several flavourable factors contribute to the growth of fungi and aflatoxin production, namely high moisture content, humid climate, warm temperature (2540°C), insect infestation and pes damage. Many means and measures to prevention of fungal contamination have been emphasized and practically done.
- Drying seeds and commodities to the safe moisture levels (
- maintenance of the container or warehouse at low temperature and humidity.
- keep out insects and pests from the storage
- Gamma-irradiation of large-scale commodities (18).
- Chemical treatment with synthetic fungicides
- organic acids: acetic acid (19), propionic acid and butyric acid (20), malonic acid (21), benzoic acid (22, 23), sorbic acid (24), lactic acid (25), citric acid (25) and their sodium salts
- sodium chloride (26)
- Benzoic acid derivatives (27): Onitrobenzoate, O-aminobenzoate, paminobenzoate, benzocain (ethly aminobenzoate), ethyl benzoate, methyl benzoate and aspirin (O-acetoxy benzoic acid)
- potassium sulfite and potassium fluoride (27)
- dichorvos (28)
- fumigant: ammonia and phosphine (29).
- treatment with natural products from plants or herbs.
- allicin and related substances from garlic and onion extracts (30)
- chitosan or derivative of chitin isolated from crustacean shells (31)
- cinnamon extract: trans-cinnamic acid, trans-cinnamaldehyde, and ferulic acid (phydroxy-3-methyl cinnamic acid) (32)
- clove oil (32)
- other herbs: thyme, star anise seeds (33), black and white peper (34). plumbago indica (35).
DECONTAMINATION OF MYCOTOXINS
Contaminated mycotoxins in foods and feeds should be removed, inactivated or detoxified by physical, chemical and biological means depending on the conditions. However, the treatment has its own limitations, since the treated products should be healthsafe from the chemicals used and their essential nutritive value should not be deteriorated. The following methods are suggested to be applied for effective decontamination of some mycotoxins.
Physically, fungi-contaminated seeds can be removed by hand picking or photoelectric detecting machines. The method would consume time and Iabor or expensive.
Organic solvents (chloroform, acetone, hexane and methanol) have been used to extract aflatoxins for agricultural products, but mainly in vegetable oil refining process (36).
Heating and cooking under pressure can destroy nearly 70% of aflatoxin in rice compared to under atmospheric pressure only 50% destroyed (37). Dry and oil roastings can reduce about 50-70% of aflatoxin B1 (38). We could show that only about 10% of total 1242 ppb of aflatoxin B. decreased in naturally contaminated peanut by heating at upto 100°C (39). Since aflatoxin resists to higher temperature upto 260°C, long-time cooking and overheating would destruct essential vitamins and amino acids in treated foods.
Ionizing radiation such as gamma-rays can stop growth of food spoilage organisms, including bacteria, molds and yeasts. It also inactivates pathogenic organisms including parasitic worms and insect pests. It has been reported that gammairradiation (5-10 M-rad) caused reduction of aflatoxin (40). The irradiation, however, could not completely destroy the toxin and its mutagenicity. In our laboratory, only about 30% of total 600 ppb at aflatoxin B1, either pure toxin or in contaminated peanut, was destroyed by 1 and 5 Mrad or gamma irradiation (23). The treatment combination of gamma irradiation and ammoniation should be therefore attempted for more aflatoxin decontamination.
Chemical treatment has been used as the most effective means for the removal of mycotoxins from contaminated commodities. The method should be sure that the detoxification system is capable of converting the toxin to a nontoxic derivative (s) without deleterious change in the raw product. Mutagenicity of the treated products should be assessed. The toxicity may be checked by feeding animals including bouts, egg embryos, chicken, ducklings and rats. Many common chemicals have been brought to test the effectiveness in detoxification of aflatoxin. These chemicals include the followings:
- acetic acid (C2H5OH) (41)
- ammonia gas (NH3) or NH4OH (42,49) or ammonium salts, 3-5% (42)
- calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) (43)
- formaldehyde (43, 47)
- hydrogen peroxide (H2O2 (44)
- methylamine (CH3-NH2) (45)
- ozone gas (03) (46)
- phosphoric acid (H3PO4) (47)
- phosphine gas (PH3), very highly toxic!
- sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) (48)
- sodium bisulfite (NaHSO3) (49)
- sodium bisulfite (NaOH) (48,49)
- sodium hypochlorite (NaOCI) (50)
The chemical reactions of detoxification of aflatoxin are primary addition of the double bond of the furan ring and oxidation involving phenol formation and opening of the lactone ring. In the presence of acid, aflatoxins B. and G. will be converted into their 2-hydroxy derivatives, aflatoxins B2a respectively.
Other mycotoxins which are like aflatoxin and have a lactone grouping in the molecule can be similarly destroyed by alkaline condition using ammonia, sodium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate. These toxins are patulin, penicillin acid, citreoviridin, citrinin, cyclochlorotin, ochratoxin A, rubratoxin, trichothecenes and zearalenone.
Certain conditions such as moisture content, heat, ultraviolet or gamma irradiation, sunlight and pressure at different treatment-periods have been simultaneously combined with the chemicals for the enhancement of detoxification.
Inactivation methods can be achieved by mixing, packing, fumigation and immersion with the chemical used.
CONTROL OF MYCOTOXINS
Careful control of mycotoxins should be started and administered by the government of each country through ministries and organizations such as the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, National Environment Committee Board and Consumer Protection Committee Board. The control program may be set up by a special administrative committee and the legislative body who regulate the national policy of food safety and the maximum tolerance limits for mycotoxins. Farmers, middlemen, food and feed factories and exporters will be well educated about mycotoxins and encouraged to prevent and control the contamination of microflora and their health-hazardous mycotoxins in their commodities as much as possible.
International cooperation for the mycotoxin regulation in trading products or commodities is also needed. The countries should establish quality control limits for certain commodities intended for export or import. The producer countries would be stimulated to be aware of mycotoxin contamination in their exported susceptible commodities. For example, the European Economic Community (EEC) has already established certain maximum tolerance limits of aflatoxins for animal feeds, i.e. not more than 20 ppb for complete feed for gigs, poultry and feed supplements for dairy animal; 50 ppb for produce to be processed into mixed feed and complete feed for cattle, sheep and goats.
International organizations such as FAO, WHO and UNEP in the UN system are engaged in providing essential information on various aspects of prevention and control of mycotoxin problems to all the countries. Guidelines for international trade include: a) procedure of sampling and analysis, b) surveillance and food control inspection systems, c) use of contaminated produce in feeding of different animals, d) protocols for detoxification and the quality control of the products. Conferences, symposiums, trainings and workshops on current informations of mycotoxins should be promoted. Low-cost technology for assessment, prevention and control of environmental mycotoxins could be then transferred from developed countries to developing ones.
Several effective ways for prevention and control hazardous fungi and their dangerous mycotoxins have been presented. The methods include biological control and physical and chemical treatments. Selection of fungal resistant hybrids of crops are recommended and further experimented. Pre-harvesting preparation of the field and environments should be aware of. Drying of commodities after post harvest is the most economical and effective means for farmers or layment, but sometimes is not suitable during rainy season or wet condition. Thermal treatment or gamma irradiation is not effective or practically used by villagers. Chemical treatments such as alkalinization and ammoniation are well-recognized and industrially used. Some modifications of the application of effective chemicals to the detoxification of mycotoxins should be developed. International cooperations through authorized organizations should be promoted and supported aiming the benefits for the economics and health of people of all the nations.