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Knowledge Partner:ICAR-Directorate of Onion and Garlic Research (DOGR) Institute

Grand Challenge for the development of 'Technologies for Primary Processing Storage and Valorization of Onions'

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (MoCAFPD) announces to develop 'Technologies for Primary Processing, Storage and Valorization of Onions' via 'Grand Challenge on Onion Storage'.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) monitors the retail and wholesale prices of 22 essential food commodities across the country. DoCA maintains buffer stocks of certain selected commodities to control price escalation so as to ensure availability at affordable prices for the common man. One such critical commodity is onion whose price fluctuates significantly due to several reasons.

Who Can Participate


  • Students(Diploma/UG/PG)
  • Research scholars (JRF, SRF, Scientist, Research/Project Associate etc.)
  • Faculties


  • Indian Companies
  • Startups (Registered/Not registered)
  • MSMEs/LLPs
  • Professionals

Verticals of Grand Challenge

Improvements in the designs of storage structures More Info

Onion is a semi perishable vegetable and is harvested during rabi season accounts 65% of onion production, hits the markets from April to May. The same crop must continue to meet the consumer demand till the month of October-November every year before the kharif crop is harvested and brought to the market. It is therefore vital to successfully store onion in order meet the regular supply. It is observed that nearly 30-40% of the crop is lost during storage due to the various reasons in form of physiological weight loss, rotting, sprouting etc. In unexpected situations such as natural calamities, the losses even go beyond 50% creating heavy stress both on demand and supply sides. The losses occurred during storage are in terms of qualitative as well as in quantitative ways. Hence, it is imperative to take some crucial steps pertaining to onion storage with minimum losses to ensure the adequate supply to the market there by reducing the price fluctuations.

Scope of improvement

  • 1. Optimization of various abiotic factors during tempering / conditioning.
  • 2. Development of sensor based detection system of onion weight loss/ rotting/ sprouting/ decaying etc.

Pre-harvesting stage More Info

Pre-harvest care such as field heat removal, curing, preliminary storage, adopting traditional methods

Challenges faced during Pre-harvesting stage

  • Systematic study of field curing on storage losses, bulb quality, biochemical quality and disease incidence of rabi season is required.
  • Design of Artificial curing system
  • Translocation photosynthates and nutrients from foliage to bulbs need to be studied during curing
  • Mechanization of onion harvesting
  • Mechanization of onion detopping/ combined de-topping and grading system.

Primary Processing More Info

Primary processing also includes curing, grading and sorting, storage and other treatment to reduce sprouting like irradiation.


Onions are graded before they are stored or transported to the market. The thick necked, bolted, doubles, injured, and decayed bulbs are picked out.

Onion size grading of following diameters:

  • a. Large: > 60 mm
  • b. Medium: 40-60 mm
  • c. Small: 20-40 mm

Irradiation of onion:

Object of irradiation is to control losses due to sprouting of onions during prolonged storage. Sprouting issue can be controlled by using irradiation technique with low dose: 0.06-0.2 k Gray. Benefits include economic gain due to reduced sprouting losses which could be as 10 - 15%.

Challenges encountered during primary processing

  • Improvements in existing grading systems
  • Reduction in processing time
  • Cost effective alternative process to irradiation process to control sprouting (like linear accelerators, cold plasma etc.)

Valorization: Value addition and utilisation of utilisation of unconsumed/excess onions More Info

Valorization of onion waste would be alleviate the negative consequences derived from the accumulation of high antioxidant biomolecules, and also provide an economic benefit for both the onion producers and processors. Processing of onion into various ready-to-eat or ready-to-use forms would increase the consumption. Processing of onion into various products like, dehydrated flakes, powder, onion oil, minimally processed onions, onion paste etc will allow the effective utilization of onions waste.

Scope for improvement/ Challenges

1. Optimization of current designs to reduce the processing time and make the product economical.

2. Onion drying and dehydration:

  • Varietal improvement for high TSS (both white and Red onions)
  • Design and development of energy efficient and low cost drying methods/ machines (solar, hot air mechanized and /or combination of both).
  • Prevention of enzymatic and non- enzymatic browning during drying and storage

3. Onion paste

  • Prevention of enzymatic and non- enzymatic browning after paste making and during storage
  • Minimizing whipping of paste
  • Improving shelf-life of onion paste

4. Extraction of potential nutraceuticals/ bio-active compounds of onion

  • Identification and screening of nutraceutical rich onion varieties
  • Identification and /or development of methods for extraction of nutraceuticals
  • Concentration of nutraceuticals/ bio-active compounds
  • Development of nutraceutical rich food products/ functional food with medicinal properties.

5. By-product and waste utilization

  • Use of onion leaves in value added products
  • Use of onion wastes (leaves, peels, spoiled onions, seed husk) in biogas generation
  • Development of edible packaging material from onion waste.


Ideation to PoC Stage

Prize money of Rs.25000 up to 40 teams Development Cost up to Rs.75000 per team
Duration: 3 to 4 Months
Status: Active

Stage – 2
PoC to Product Development Stage

Prize money of Rs.50000 upto 20 teams Development Cost up to Rs.5 Lakhs per team
Status: Activated Later

Stage – 3
Field Implementation

One winner in each vertical and two/four runner-ups will be selected and supported appropriately for the field deployment of the solution.
Status: Activated Later

Stage–1 (Ideation to PoC Stage):

Shortlisted teams will be asked to make a presentation to Jury. Based on the recommendations of Jury, 40 proposals on verticals will be shortlisted. The financial support of Rs. 75,000 each to develop a proof of concept (PoC) and/or a working prototype of the proposed solution within 3-4 months duration would be provided. In this stage, a workable process is to be explained to show the PoC or to design and develop a prototype to demonstrate to the Jury members consisting of experts from Academia, user agency (DoCA), MoCA, Industry, etc. The winning team of stage 1 will receive prize money of Rs.25000.

Terms and Conditions

  • The above-mentioned participating teams are not mandatorily required to be registered with Indian Companies/startups / MSMEs LLPs to apply for the challenge. However, the teams shortlisted at second stage (PoC to Product Stage) will be required to apply for registration as Indian Startups/ Company/ MSMEs/ LLPs and submit the proof of having applied at the final stage (Field Implementation). It will be expected that by the time of selection at the final stage, necessary registration will be completed.
  • The Indian Tech start-ups, MSMEs, Companies, LLPs registered in India under the company Act can apply. The entity must have 51% or more shareholding with Indian citizens or persons of Indian origin. The applicant’s entity should not be a subsidiary company of any foreign corporation.


  • Funds will be transferred only in the bank accounts of Startups/companies / MSMEs / LLPs and not in the bank accounts of individuals.
  • Product IP (Intellectual Property) will belong to the innovator. However, it would be used & disseminated country wide for public use on the directions of DoCAFPD in Nation's Interest.



For Subject Related Query

Phone No. - 011-23386727

For Technical Related Query

Phone No. - 011-29581225


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