Agri Business

Costly onion seedlings hit MP's farmers

M.R. Subramani Chennai | Updated on November 10, 2017

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Farmers near Indore have been among those affected by frost in central and northern parts of the country.

Some of their vegetable crops have been damaged badly. More than that, their efforts to plant a new onion crop is now being hindered by high costs for onion seedlings.

“Onion seedlings in some places are being sold for over Rs 5,000 a kg,” says Mr Sunil Mukhati, a farmer. “Last year, we paid lower than Rs 400.”

“There is good demand for the seedlings and, therefore, prices have gone up,” says Mr Pawan Kejriwal, owner of Hindustan Seeds Pvt Ltd.

Mr Mukhati says: “Sellers are demanding high price because they say demand is high. But we growers are in a dilemma because we feel prices are too high and we are not sure if we can recover the cost after the new crop is harvest.”

Prices are more than double for seedlings compared with last year.

Among various places, prices are a little lower in eastern parts of the country.

One of the reasons for seedlings being quoted at a higher price is that unseasonal rains in November damaged seedlings too.

Mr Madan Prakash, Director of Chennai-based Rajathi Group of Companies that trades in onion, said: “Onion seedlings were also affected by rain. Also the fact that some of farmers are pulling out pre-matured crop could have led to higher demand for seedlings.”

Dr R.P. Gupta, Director of the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), said: “It is possible that those cultivating seedlings could have raised the price on seeing the demand for onion. I can not say how high the prices are since they depend on the demand.”

Horticulture officials are unaware of agencies or people who are involved in sales of onion seedlings.

“As far as I know, seedlings are being sent from here at around Rs 1,500 a kg. Those taking it from here may be selling it at a higher price,” said Mr Rupesh Jaju, Director of Nashik-based United Pacific Agro Pvt Ltd.

Some firms in and around Nashik get seedlings grown by farmers and sell them to other States or regions in Maharashtra.

According to the NHRDF, transplanting of the new crop seedlings is expected to be completed by the end of this month. The foundation also expects sowing to be higher in all parts of the country, barring Maharashtra, compared with last year.

Higher prices for seedlings could mean farmers could be looking for higher price when they harvest onion sometime after March.

Rabi onion arrivals are expected to peak in April and continue till June.

Meanwhile, heavy arrivals in the last two days have led to onion prices dropping to between Rs 1,300 and Rs 1,700 a quintal in the last two days at Lasalgaon, Asia's biggest onion market.

Published on January 26, 2011

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