Farmers in country’s biggest wholesale onion market in Lasalgaon are now demanding that Centre procure onions from Maharashtra as it did in the case of Madhya Pradesh. Following farmer protests , the Centre recently decided to procure onions from Madhya Pradesh. Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Nashik has written to the Centre seeking intervention to prevent farmer distress. According to him, farmers in Maharashtra are facing similar problems as other onion farmers across the country due to a bumper crop.
“As per the estimates given out by the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation ( NHRDF) the cost of production for the farmer is around Rs 827 per quintal while they are currently selling their produce at Rs 525 per quintal. In effect, the farmer is making a loss of Rs 302 per quintal. Daily arrivals at the market are the tune of 20,000 to 25000 quintals, ” he said. Holkar said that farmers now require funds for the kharif sowing operations and therefore the intervention of the government is important. The government has already given assistance by extending the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) incentive on export of onion for a period of three months till June 30 at the rate of 5% FOB, but more needs to be done, Holkar said.
Maharashtra, which is among the biggest onion producing states in the country, and therefore farmers here need support so that they do not shift to other crops, Holkar said. The central government decided to procure 2 lakh tonne of onion from Madhya Pradesh to provide relief to the farmers from declining prices of the crop.The wholesale prices of onion have sharply declined to less than Rs 6 per kg in Madhya Pradesh as production of the crop was higher during late kharif season of crop year 2016-17 (July-June).
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The decision was taken in the wake of agitations by farmers in Madhya Pradesh against lower prices of agricultural commodities. The farmers in the state are also seeking waiver of farm loans and higher support prices for the produce. Onion production during late kharif (summer) season of 2016-17 has been much higher, leading to huge arrivals of the commodity in mandis and drop in prices. The country produces 160-170 lakh metric tonne of onion annually out of which 50% comes during the rabi season (April-May), 30% in late kharif season (January-February), and 20% in kharif season.
Maharashtra produces 25-30% onion of the total production and contributes about 80-85% of the total onion export. Out of the total onion production in the state, 10-15% onion production is in kharif season, 30 -40% production is in late kharif and 50-60% production is in rabi/summer season. Annually, around 10-12 lakh hectares comes under onion cultivation during the kharif season.