This has led to concern among onion growers, who are now seeking government intervention to rein in any further fall in prices.
Onion prices at the Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market, continue to fall on the back of heavy arrivals. With the arrival of 18,000 quintal on Monday, prices dropped to Rs 2,250 per quintal. This has led to concern among onion growers, who are now seeking government intervention to rein in any further fall in prices.
Onion growers are seeking the removal of stockholding limits and lifting of ban on onion exports. Restrictions imposed on stockholding and ban on onion exports were among a slew of measures announced by the government to rein in the surge in onion prices during September and December 2019. Prices in Lasalgaon in Maharashtra have dropped down to Rs 2,250 per quintal from a high of Rs 8,625 per quintal in December.
Representatives of farmer bodies in Maharashtra had requested the Centre to review the ban on export of onions and restrictions on stockholding limits. Lok Sabha legislator Bharati Pawar has sent a letter to Narendra Singh Tomar, minister of agriculture & farmers’ welfare, asking him to lift the ban on export of onions. Pawar represents Dindori town in Nashik district, one of the largest onion-growing regions in the country.
“Despite a significant rise in supply from December-end, traders have been unable to store and bring onions to the market due to the restrictive stock-holding limits,” Suvarna Jagtap, chairman of Lasalgaon Agricultural Produced Market Committee (APMC) said, adding this may lead to losses for both farmers and traders in the future. Lasalgaon is flooded with onion coming from the region and other parts. She said she had already alerted the state and central governments on the need to change policies. Jaydutt Holkar, former chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, said daily arrivals had crossed 20,000-25,000 quintal a day and this has led to a sharp fall in prices. He said they had communicated with the Centre on the matter but there had been no response.
Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said the states are not willing to buy imported onions any more, indicating that the Centre may not continue with imports.
According to market sources, the government has been struggling to dispose the imported onions to states. Of around 36,000 imported onions, four states have picked up just 2,000 tonne. Traders highlighted that there was no demand for the imported onion since consumers prefer the pungency of the Indian onion.
The Centre is currently offering onions through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India, Mother Dairy Safal and Kendriya Bhandar outlets at Rs 49-58 per kg in Delhi. India has imported the bulb from Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkey and the Netherlands to contain rising prices over the past few months.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State Onion Growers Association has threatened to stage an agitation unless the Centre lifts the ban on onion exports.