Shallot is an onion variety of the species Allium cepais. It is the second major horticultural crop after hot peppers in Indonesia. The shallot area in Indonesia is about 100,000 ha of which the majority is on Java (75%) and produces annually about 1,000,000 tonnes (in 2013). Still, Indonesia is not self-sufficient in shallot production resulting in an annual import of about 90,000 tonnes, mainly from India, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Government of Indonesia aims to increase the shallot area annually with approximately 3,000 ha to meet the increasing demand for shallots and to reduce imports.
Higher yields possible
Current shallot systems in Indonesia use saved bulbs of the previous season as planting material. One of the problems in these systems is that the bulbs are a major source of diseases, which are transferred to the next season. Current yields are therefore much lower than potential yields. An alternative system is based on true shallot seed (TSS) that uses disease free seed as starting material. As a result, yields of TSS systems can be much higher than the current systems based on farm-saved bulbs. An additional benefit of TSS is the lower costs for planting material including transportation costs. Disadvantages are the longer growing season, while it is only suitable for more sandy soils. Heavy soils hamper seed germination and transplanting of shallot seedlings and can be found in Brebes which currently is the major shallot producing area of Indonesia.
Identification of suitable areas
Insight in the agro-ecological suitability of cropland in Indonesia for TSS systems is helpful to identify areas that are most promising to increase current production levels and/or to develop new shallot areas. A country-wide suitability study for TSS systems contributes to the discussion where shallot can be best produced given prevailing biophysical conditions of soils and climate and the need to use natural resources as efficient as possible.