Agri Business

Farmers want to get rid of Asia’s biggest onion market

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on October 26, 2021

Growers want to band together, end the hold of traders’ cartel, and have a say in prices

A few days ago, Kakasaheb Mahalkar, an onion farmer from Aurangabad district, took his produce to Asia’s largest market at Lasalgaon for sale. But the price of ₹1,800 a quintal offered by the traders upset him. He then had to ask the onion growers’ association to intervene, which helped him get a higher price of ₹2,400 a quintal.

Incidents such as this have led to farmers wanting to get rid of the Lasalgaon market.

Onion prices drop after IT raid on Nashik traders

“Asia’s biggest onion market — Lasalgaon — is just a namesake. It is useless for farmers. We don’t want the Agricultural Produce Market Committee dominated by a cartel of traders, comprising a few families, to decide prices,” Bharat Dighole, President, Maharashtra State Onion Growers’ Association, told BusinessLine.

The Lasalgaon market controls India’s onion trading. Farmer leaders say about 125 main traders come from 25 families. They hold trading licences and have complete control over the market. No new licences are issued by the APMC without the traders’ nod, farmers allege.

Social media platforms started by onion farmers recently discussed how political leaders, APMC officials and traders are hand-in-glove to hike or bring down onion prices.

Except farmers and consumers, everyone else decides onion prices, says Digahole. “We are about two lakh onion farmers who have realised that we have to be united to bargain.

New farm laws

“Now, this process has been accelerated. We want to have our own market and supply chain. The association is taking steps in this direction. The only way is to have collective power and get into direct marketing. We don’t need intermediaries. We have to take steps for the full realisation of price,” Dighole said.

Surge in onion prices adds another layer of pain for consumers

The farmers’ association statement comes at a time when the Centre’s new farm laws, passed by Parliament last September, are stuck in legal and political mess. In fact, onion growers want to get rid of the traders’ cartel at Lasalgaon. This cartel was suspected to be behind prices of the bulb topping ₹100 a kg at retail outlets in 2019 and 2020.

A study by the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Agricultural Development and Rural Transformation Centre, Bengaluru, revealed that in December 2010 a few big traders with well-connected networks played a big role in hoarding the bulb and driving prices higher. Prices had soared in 2011 and 2013 too.

Suvarna Jagtap, Lasalgaon APMC Chairperson, told BusinessLine “In Nashik, we have several cases of grape farmers who directly contacted traders outside APMC and were duped. This doesn’t happen when farmers bring their produce to APMCs.” she said.

Jagtap also denied that certain families dominate onion trading or that licences are issued only with the consent of traders.



Published on October 26, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like