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Onion, Allium cepa / Liliaceae (Alliaceae)
The onion is original from Asia, concretely from Iran and Pakistan, and it is known since 6,000 B.C. From this continent it spreaded to Europe, thanks to the Romans, and then to America. Nowadays, it is mainly cultivated in Asia. The main producing countries are China, India, the United States and Turkey.

It is a very old vegetable, and it was already cultivated by the Sumerians in 6,000 B.C. The Egyptians knew it since 5,000 B.C., appearing in wall paintings. The Greeks and the Romans consumed it, and were the first to spread its consumption all over the north of Europe. From this continent it arrived at America.

Onions are mainly cultivated in Asia, representing 60% of the world production.

The world production is:
ContinentThousand tons%
Africa3,4468
Asia27,02961
Europe6,86116
North America3,3898
Oceania219-
South America2,9737
Total43,917100


Source: Fresh Produce Desk Book (1999)

The 10 main producing countries are:
CountryThousand tons
China10,044
India4,429
The United States2,750
Turkey2,300
Iran1,540
Japan1,240
Pakistan1,177
Russia1,100
Spain985
Korea872


Source: FAO Production Yearbook, 1998

As it may be observed, China produces almost the fourth part of the world’s onions. Almost all the countries in the table are Asian, except for the United States, that is the third producing country, Russia and Spain.

The 10 main exporting countries are:
CountryThousand tons
The Netherlands484
Argentina405

Mexico
306
The United States289
Spain239
New Zealand163

Egypt
150
India149
Turkey144
China134


Source: FAO Trade Yearbook, 1998
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