Onion auctions to stay open during Diwali? Here is what traders are threatening to do

By: | Published: October 14, 2017 2:07 AM

Directives issued by the Nashik District Administration in Maharashtra to the Agriculture Produce Market Committees to keep onion auctions open during the Diwali period has sent the markets into a tizzy.

Onion, Maharashtra, DiwaliOnion prices have been on the rise at Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee and other market committees in Nashik district.

Directives issued by the Nashik District Administration in Maharashtra to the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) to keep onion auctions open during the Diwali period has sent the markets into a tizzy. Traders have threatened not to participate in the auction because of the non-availability of labour during the festive period and the market committees have expressed helplessness over the situation pointing out that prices had dropped by more than Rs 1,000 per quintal in a day because of shortage in the market.

With traders deciding to stay away from markets, farmers stepped out on the streets on Friday over the sudden fall in prices, seeking reasons for the lack of demand.

Usually onion auctions during such festive periods remain shut because the labour goes on holiday and traders as well keep away from markets. This has been the practice for more than 25 years and now with the directives being issued by the administration, traders have informed market committees that they shall not be able to participate in auctions because of the unavailabilty of labour, Atmaram Kumbhar, chairman, APMC, Chandwad said.

“Due to the incessant rains the new crop which hit the markets in the next fortnight will now be delayed by more than one and a half month. Consumers should be prepared to shell out more money for onions for the next couple of months because there is a shortage of supplies. The rains have also damaged 50% of the new crop that is yet to be harvested, he said. Jaydutt Holkar, Lasalgaon APMC echoed similar sentiments.

The recent developments in the market after the government raids on wholesale traders, the visit of the team from the Union ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution to check the fluctuation in wholesale onion prices has kept traders on their toes. According to some traders, the orders were issued by the district administration to bring down the prices that had shot up in the past few days because of incessant rains in the state as well as Karnataka.

However, instead of realising that this situation has occurred because of the continuous rains which has delayed the new harvest and disrupted supplies in the market, the traders are being held responsible for the situation, Manoj Jain, a trader from Lasalgaon said.

Farmers at the Pimpalgaon, Umrane, Niphad, among other market committees, went on a flash strike on Friday over the sudden fall in prices, Dilip Bankar, chairman of the Pimpalgaon APMC told FE. The market shall remain open on Saturday and Monday as well but it has become difficult to deal with the situation, he said, adding that usually during Diwali the labour takes the entire week off because of domestic commitments.

On Thursday, average prices at Pimpalgaon had touched Rs 2,351 per quintal and the market was shut on Friday after the farmer unrest because of the fall in prices by more than `1,000 per quintal, he said. Bankar pointed out that most of the market committees had shut down auctions on Friday after the directives were issued as farmers came onto the streets to protest against the fall in prices. Kumbhar said that the markets shall remain open but expressed doubts if there would be much demand.

Onion prices have been on the rise at Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) and other market committees in Nashik district because of the widening gap between demand and supply.

According to APMC sources, the rise in wholesale prices will affect retail prices in the next few days. Retail prices have increased to over Rs 30-45 a kg in Nashik and may go up to `35 per kg over the next few days. Elsewhere in the country , the retail prices are around `50 a kg. “The demand for onions from the southern parts of the country has increased significantly following scarcity. This has led to a rise in the wholesale onion prices in Nashik. Moreover, Lasalgaon and other APMCs in the district that deal with auctioning of onions will remain closed for a week during Diwali.

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