1. Lasalgaon onion crisis: Auctions at standstill

Lasalgaon onion crisis: Auctions at standstill

A meeting between a delegation of officials from various market committees and the govt fails to produce any result

By: | Pune | Published: July 21, 2016 6:06 AM
Around 450-odd traders returned their licences to the market committee in Lasalgaon and another 2,000 traders in the other 20-odd market committees also surrendered their licences. Around 450-odd traders returned their licences to the market committee in Lasalgaon and another 2,000 traders in the other 20-odd market committees also surrendered their licences.

With no solution emerging to the ongoing crisis in Nashik district, the  Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Lasalgaon has started the process for issuing fresh trading licences under the new norms declared by the government. The step was taken after traders surrendered their licences to the market committee following the recent strike across mandis in Maharashtra.

A  meeting of a delegation of officials of various market committees in Nashik district with the agriculture and marketing minister, cooperation minister and revenue minister of the state did not produce any results. Therefore, the Lasalgaon APMC has sought to issue new licences and invited traders to participate in the process, Jaydutta Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, said. Lasalgaon is considered to be Asia’s largest wholesale market for onion.

Around 450-odd traders returned their licences to the market committee in Lasalgaon and another 2,000 traders in the other 20-odd market committees also surrendered their licences. Holkar said that other market committees may also follow Lasalgaon and float advertisements for new licences. Even if we get 50 traders who are willing to do trade as per the new norms, we shall resume  trading at Lasalgaon, he said.

Onion auctions at Lasalgaon APMC have come to a standstill with traders expressing dissatisfaction over the outcome of talks with the government during the recent strike by APMC traders across Maharashtra. The government is expected to come out with a new notification on August 6.

In 2015-16, around 40,73,213 quintals of commodities such as onion, vegetables, grains and oilseeds were auctioned. The annual turnover of the APMC in Lasalgaon alone comes up to R600-700 crore.

Onion traders have surrendered their licences and stopped trading in APMCs since July 9 in protest against the government’s decision to delist fruits and vegetables from APMC Act and also levy commission on traders, instead of farmers.

According to Sohanlal Bhandari,  president, Nashik District Onion Traders Association, the association had no objection if the market committee floated new advertisements for new licenses. “However, I do no believe there will be much response to the advertisement,” he said. The district association has some 2,500 odd traders and Bhandari said his association members would not participate in the new licence process.

Nandkumar Daga, president, Lasalgaon Onion Merchants Association, said that the government was free to take these steps since the traders had decided to stay away from the APMC. The whole issue is about the commission amount, he said. The imposition of several taxes, market cess, maintenance and other charges, doing business inside the APMCs is 6% more expensive for traders,” Daga said.

There are also big exporters at Lasalgaon. Lasalgaon has created a base in the market. and sets trends for onion prices across the country. Maharashtra shares 40% of total onion production in the country.

Nashik contributes 80% to the total onion production of the state.

Meanwhile, according to the latest report issued by the National Horticultural Research Development Foundation (NHRDF), the  farmer sentiment  to grow kharif onion is quite low due to low market price of onion; delay in onset of rains in kharif onion producing areas of country, complacency of state governments towards kharif onion due to current glut like situation being faced by them.

Generally, around one lakh hectares area comes under kharif onion in Maharashtra. In 2015-16, it was about 35000 hectares because of the drought. During the current kharif seas on 2016-17, till date onion seed for about 10000 hectares has been purchased by the farmers from different sources from the markets. Sowing of seed  began after the onset of rains in Maharashtra.

Even after good rains during the last 15 days in Maharashtra, farmers are staying away from onion crop due to low prices prevailing in the markets.

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