Onion auctions, which had come to a halt at Lasalgaon — the country’s largest wholesale market for the vegetable — due to the ongoing transporters’ strike will resume on Wednesday, after an agreement was reached between the traders and the market committee officials. Even though the strike has not been called off, traders agreed to take a risk and participate in the auctions. However, they hope that the agitation will be called off by the truckers in a couple of days.
The stir by the All India Motor Transport Congress is to protest against “constant increases in diesel prices, uncontrollable toll expenses, GST (goods and services tax) compliance issues and practical problems with e-way bills”.
On Tuesday, auctions had come stalled with no transport facilities available, threatening to inflate onion prices.
Lasalgaon was shut for three days owing to the weekend and “Ashad Ekadash” celebrations on Monday.
Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee told FE that talks were held on Tuesday afternoon to resolve the issue and traders came forward with a suggestion to reopen auctions since the market had remained closed for three days.
The impact of the transporters’ agitation seems to be minimal in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh where vegetables are excluded. In Maharashtra, however, it may be difficult to transport goods because of the fear of windscreens being broken and vehicles being stopped en route, traders said.
Manoj Jain, a trader from Lasalgaon said: “We like the other industry sectors are dependent on truckers to transport our goods. We shall wait and watch and hope that the strike is called off in the next couple of days or else we shall be forced to keep the market shut again.”
There was talk of despatching onions through the rail by booking rakes but Jain pointed out that it was not economically viable. Nitin Jain, another trader, also said using the rail route was not a solution to this crisis. Several market committees, including Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, were closed for the last three days
On Monday, some onion auctions took place in the sub-divisional market committees of Niphad, Umrana and Vanchur. Onion arrivals in these markets had touched 16,686 quintals and modal prices touched Rs 1,100 per quintal. On Friday, arrivals at Lasalgaon were around 18,064 quintals with prices averaging at Rs 1,116 per quintal. Prices and arrivals were in the same range throughout last week.
Arrivals have been in the range of 16,000 quintals to 18,000 quintals with farmers preferring to get their produce out in stages since the summer onion can be stored and has a shelf line of six months. Holkar said that farmers were earlier bringing in the rejected produce to the mandis, leading to lower prices.
However, they have now begun stocking for the season ahead and have started bringing out the good quality onions which are commanding better prices. Holkar has appealed to farmers not to rush to markets to sell their crop and instead bring in their produce in a staggered manner to ensure a steady inflow to the market.