Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) in Maharashtra are now gearing up for onion procurement following directives issued by the state cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh. Deshmukh, who had called a meet to check out strategies to keep onion prices under control, said that the process of issuing direct marketing licences would be eased to prevent monopoly of a few traders in the market. He had also asked FPCs to step in to begin procurement procurement at the grassroot level in order to benefit farmers.
Accordingly, the Maharashtra Federation of Farmer Producer Companies (MahaFPC) has decided to commence onion procurement after conducting a successful pilot in Shirur taluka near Pune. The federation had procured 60 tonne in the pilot to be sold in Chandigarh. With onion prices ruling high in the national capital, the Delhi government has sent a proposal to the government of Maharashtra for onion procurement, said MahaFPC managing director Yogesh Thorat.
Moreover, FPCs will now play a major role in selling commodities such as onions out of the state and the process is being institutionalised through the State Marketing Board, he said. The Railways have been approached for sending onions to other states in the North and North East where there is a great demand for onions from the state, he said, adding that the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) here have agreed to supply vehicles.
Onion prices in the market shot up to `80 per kilogram (kg) in Delhi and a few other cities on Tuesday due to a squeeze in supply, suggesting that if the trend continues, retail inflation in India might also go up in the coming quarters. Prices of onion at the Azadpur Mandi — Asia’s largest vegetable market — were more than Rs 50-60 per kg over the past few days. However, on Tuesday the same onions sold for Rs 80 a kg, according to a trader.
Interestingly, the average wholesale price of onions on Thursday declined to Rs 2,500 per quintal as against Rs 2,700 per quintal a day earlier — an almost 25% drop since Tuesday — at the Lasalgaon APMC, thanks to fresh arrival of the kharif crop.
The produce was sold at Rs 40 per kg in the retail markets of Nashik city on Thursday and the prices are expected to decline further in the next few days.
The price trend in the wholesale market is now expected to be downwards with supply of kharif crop rising each day.
Retail prices of onions in Vashi in Navi Mumbai have been hovering at `70-80 per kg during the last couple of days.
Rajendra Shelke, president of the Onion and Potato Association said prices have dropped to Rs 35-40 per kg for the summer onion and `25-30 per kg for the newly arrived red onion.
Prices are likely to remain high since the adat (weighing charges) of 6.5% (commission) along with market fees is now passed onto the consumer as per the new APMC rules, Shelke said. This season, Maharashtra Federation of Farmer Producer Companies has decided to commence onion procurement in a big manner and targets are likely to be set soon.
A survey is being undertaken by the federation to check out demand and supply and a decision will be taken accordingly, Thorat said. Last season, MahaFPC had procured some 20,000 tonne of Tur for Maharashtra in accordance with the targets of a 1 million tonne buffer stock to be created by the Centre. This is the first time any federation of Farmer Produce Companies will begin procurement of pulses on a large scale.