Agri Business

No more ‘inauspicious’ days in Asia’s biggest onion market

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 10, 2021

The tradition of closing operations on Amavasya day stopped as it impacts prices

For the last 74 years, Lasalgaon, Asia’s biggest onion market, would shut operations for a day every month on Amavasya (New Moon day), which many consider ‘inauspicious’. Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), established on April 1, 1947, followed the tradition without any questions, but now it has put an end to this superstitious practice as onion farmers have raised their voice against closing the market.

As much as 15,000-30,000 tonnes of the kitchen staple is traded daily at the market and for farmers and even traders, a day’s break means huge losses. “One day closure means accumulation of onion stock and increase in arrivals the next day. The consequence is a drop in price the farmers get,” explains Bharat Dighole, President, Maharashtra State Onion Grower's Association.

The Lasalgaon Merchants Association President and onion trader, Nandkumar Daga, has not only announced that trading will continue on the New Moon day but also on Saturdays, which used to be a half-day, so that farmers don’t suffer.

Onion tears

Ever since the outbreak of Covid-19, in March 2020, the onion market has frequently remained closed, leading to heavy losses for onion farmers. Unseasonal rains and periodic lockdowns also added to their woes.

Lasalgaon supplies onion to many parts of the country and even a slight change in supply has a direct impact on retail and wholesale markets across States. Traders in Lasalgaon say that India’s daily requirement of onion is 50,000-60,000 tonnes.

Dighole points out that recently Deola APMC, too, decided to break away from the practice of closing on Amavasya day and now Lasalgaon has followed suit. He adds that APMCs must not close markets at all. “There is another tradition of closing markets for ten days during March-end.

This is another kind of superstition that all markets have to be closed during the financial year ending” he added.

According to the locals, the tradition of closing the market on New Moon day was observed because farmers coming from nearby villages feared to travel and take onions to the market in their bullock carts on this day.

But Covid-19 has succeeded in peeling away superstitions. As a farmer from Nashik points out, after a series of lockdowns and closures, every day is auspicious as long as you can continue your work.

Published on June 09, 2021

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