The increased pace of onion arrivals over the week at Lasalgaon, one of the biggest onion trading hubs in the country, could spell cheer for consumers, with prices falling by around Rs 600 per quintal in this time span.
According to top officials, arrivals have begun to increase because farmers are now able to harvest the crop after the recent spell of rain and hailstorms.
“The fields are drying up and therefore more onions are being harvested,” Nanasaheb Patil, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) said. Prices are expected to fall further in the coming weeks, with the government yet to grant permission to traders for a rail rake to Patna.
On Friday, 21,750 quintals of onion arrived at the Lasalgaon market, with the minimum price at Rs 700 per quintal and maximum at Rs 1,445 per quintal and modal price averaging at Rs 1,275 per quintal. Last week, the modal price was around Rs 1,800 per quintal.
Prices are falling because of increased arrivals and this pace of arrivals will continue till mid-January when onions will be harvested in full swing, Patil said.
At Pimpalgaon, another major APMC market in Nashik, arrivals on Friday stood at 6,000 quintals with the minimum at Rs 1,000 per quintal, maximum at Rs 1,490 per quintal and modal price at Rs 1,251 per quintal. These are late kharif and early rabi arrivals and therefore a large quantity of onions is being released into the market.
According to market officials, the arrival of fresh kharif crop has increased in the past week.
The arrival of onions, which was around 10,000 quintals a day, has increased to 22,000 quintals a day.
The shelf life of kharif crop is less than a month. So farmers have no option but to sell the commodity at the prevailing market rates.
According to Patil, traders have been trying to get a rail rake to Patna but have not succeeded so far. Had permission for the rake been given, the prices would have remained steady.
Transporting onions by road to locations in the north is more expensive by at least around Rs 200-400 per quintal as compared to road transport. Bulk transportation of onions is possible by rail, not road, he pointed out.
Meanwhile, onions from Lasalgaon will get the geographical indication (GI) tag, with the agricultural department of the state starting the process to grant special status to the commodity produced in the district.
GI is a name or sign used on products corresponding to a specific geographical location. The use of a GI tag may act as certification that the product is made traditionally or has a reputation owing to its geographical origin.
The promotion and development of GI is a tool for regional promotion and to protect the heritage of a particular place. This will help producers market their products and earn more revenue. Nashik grapes and valley wine have already received the GI tag.
The Nashik district contributes 80% of total onion export of the country.
The summer crop, which is harvested in March and April, is supplied to the market until the arrival of fresh kharif crop by mid-September. The summer crop has a shelf life of around six to seven months. But unseasonal rainfall and hailstorms hit the district in March, badly affecting the quality of summer onions.
As a result, the arrival of good quality onions in the market was up to 10%, while the remaining was of poor and medium quality.