Besides potatoes, tomatoes and carrots, onions are the world’s most important vegetable. About 64 million tons of dry onions were produced in 2007. Onions are grown across 7.4 million acres in over 134 different countries. The biggest producer of onions is China with more than 22 million tons in 2013. Number 2 is India with over 16 million tons annually now, number 3 the Unites states with less than 4 million tons annually. In India, onions are vegetable crop number 2, only potatoes are more important. The per capita production in India is 3 times higher than in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, onions are a favourite food in Sri Lanka, too. And because the consumption is comparable to India, onions have to be imported in Sri Lanka.
No Sri Lanka Lankan meal is without onions. Red onions are the kitchen favourite in Sri Lanka, finding its way into almost all curries and being the main ingredient in the popular and very common “pol sambol”. Potatoes are often served with onions as “Ala Badun”.
In Sri Lanka, onions are grown only in restricted areas in the dry zone and in the cool climate of the central highlands. The cultivation of both red and large onions requires 500 to 600 labour days per hectare. Onions are adaptable in any soil as long as the correct amount of water is supplied.
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