Agri Business

Onion prices coming down says govt; farmers in agitation mode

Our Bureaus Pune/ New Delhi | Updated on October 03, 2019

Even as Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan claimed on Thursday that onion prices have started cooling down in both retail and wholesale markets, Shetkari Sanghatana, an apex farmers’ body in Maharashtra, announced that all onion markets would be indefinitely closed from October 7 if the Centre failed to revoke its decision to ban onion exports and imposition of stock limits on traders.

Retail onion prices, which were ruling at ₹60-70 per kg for the past few weeks in the national capital and some other parts of the country, declined to below ₹60 per kg on Thursday, per trade data,. “We have to take care of the interest of both farmers and consumers. Prices of onion have started declining after we banned export and imposed stock limits of 100 quintals on retailers and 500 quintals on wholesale traders,” Paswan told reporters in Delhi.

Out of the central buffer stock of 56,000 tonnes of onion, 18,000 tonnes have been disposed of and about 15,000 tonnes have dried owing to moisture loss, he said. “We still have 25,000 tonnes of onion in our stock. We are asking State governments to take (from the stock) and supply at ₹23.90 per kg in their States and ensure prices are stable,” the food and consumer affairs minister added.

“The Centre’s decision has landed onion farmers and traders into major trouble. The decision will disturb the onion distribution cycle. The government has stopped onion consignments. India might lose international onion market because of inconsistent policies” said Anil Ghanwat, President of Shethkari Sanghatana, speaking to Businessline. He claimed that because of the government’s decision, the price of onion, which had climbed to ₹50 per kg, has come down to ₹25 per kg and farmers are suffering losses.

Sohanlal Bhandari, President of the Nashik district Onion Traders’ Association, told Businessline that the government’s decision has created major chaos in the market. “The government has not defined what it means by stock and now traders are unwilling to buy onion from farmers. In Nashik, we have traders who buy more than 10,000 quintals from farmers on a daily basis. But now, nobody is ready to buy onion from farmers fearing action by the government. There is panic among traders,” he said.

Election factor

Interestingly, Bhandari said traders have not taken any decision about an agitation as the State is in election mode. He said that the agitation would take a political hue.

However, Ghanwat said that farmers would make this an election issue and ask people to vote against BJP- Shiv Sena candidates.

Onion prices declined to below the ₹30 per kg level at Lasalgaon in Nashik district, Asia’s largest wholesale market for the bulb crop, after the government banned its export and imposed a stock limit on traders.

The modal wholesale price of onion was ₹26 per kg on Thursday at the Lasalgaon APMC, while the maximum rate was ₹30.20 per kg and the minimum was quoted at ₹15 per kg. Lasalgaon mandi sets price trends for onion across the country. Any fluctuation in this market reflects in other parts.

Published on October 03, 2019

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