Average wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) — the country’s largest hub for the bulb dropped to the season’s lowest at R460 per quintal on Friday. According to Lasalgaon Market Committee officials, prices dropped due to heavy arrivals and the non-availability of Railway wagons to transport the commodity.
The maximum prices of onion at Lasalgaon on Friday were at R611 per quintal and the minimum prices were at R300 per quintal with modal prices at R460 per quintal. At least 35,000 quintal of onion arrived in the market on Friday.
Modal prices of onions have been in the range of R470-480 per quintal this week with more than 30,000 quintal arriving in the market on a daily basis. Market Committee officials said that till Thursday, the commodity which was being transported by traders to several locations across the country through railway wagons had to be stopped because of the non-availability of wagons.
More than 3 days worth of produce is now lying with traders who have been demanding at least 30 railway racks to transport onions, the officials said.
Traders find it cheaper to transport onion through the railways because of lower costs of 60 paise per kg as against R2-3 per kg through the roadways.
Moreover, one wagon can carry at least 1,600 tonnes of onion while a single truck can at most carry some 20 tonnes.
In a week, 65 wagons from Nashik transport onions across the country. However, since only 15 wagons are made available by the authorities, traders pointed out that there are limitations in transportion of the commodity.
According to traders, there has been a bumper crop this season as a result of which arrivals are in full swing. APMC officials pointed out that the harvesting of the crop is in its peak.
“Summer crop is stored for around six months, but the shelf life or kharif onions are less than one month. Farmers have no option, but to sell the commodity at the prevailing market rates.
“Currently, there have been huge arrivals in the market and it is almost double in the range from 25,000 to 35,000 quintal a day,” the official said.
Onion prices have continued to drop even after the government extended 5% Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) subsidy for onion exporters up to March 31 because of the rise in arrival of onions.
In the city’s retail market, onions are being sold in the range of R10 to R15 a kg. Last month, Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC had written to the Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for more railway wagons so that more onions can be sold to other states and there is price stability in the market. According to Holkar, usually as per practice, traders seek more wagons from Railways and are even ready to pay for the use of the wagons.
However, they end up getting just a couple of wagons when they seek around 5-6 wagons. The daily arrivals at Lasalgaon are to the tune of some 35,000 quintal a day which has led to a fall in prices, he had said.