At Pimpalgaon, another major mandi in Maharashtra, farmers received 38% more as average onion price at Rs 669.82 per quintal during the last two months as against Rs 484.22 per quintal in the year-ago period.
In key mandis close to major onion production centres, farmers are currently fetching Rs 5.50-10.60 per kg for the vegetable, compared with Rs 3.90-6.60 per kg a year ago, market data reviewed by FE show. Assuming that the benchmark price of Rs 8 per kg assured by the Madhya Pradesh government is remunerative for farmers in other states also, at least sections of onion farmers are not selling the vegetable at losses.
However, farmers are agitating now with more vigour than during the last harvest season because of greater cohesion among organisations across political lines. Also, the Madhya Pradesh government’s failure to ensure the promised Rs 8 per kg to onion farmers in the state, by paying the differential between the (lower) market prices and the benchmark, angered the farmers in the state and set off a chain reaction among vegetable growers in other states too, market observers said.
At the four major production centres in Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan, onion growers have, on an average, received 38-59% higher realisation in April-May this year compared with the same period last year. The average mandi price of onion at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra, for example, was Rs 685.82 per quintal during April-May this year, compared with Rs 486.24 a quintal a year earlier, an increase of 41%.
At Pimpalgaon, another major mandi in Maharashtra, farmers received 38% more as average onion price at Rs 669.82 per quintal during the last two months as against Rs 484.22 per quintal in the year-ago period. Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon are two major onion producing centres in Nashik district.
In Alwar, Rajasthan, which normally commands a higher rate than Maharashtra, farmers sold onion at an average price of Rs 1054.35 per quintal during this April-May against Rs 664.52 a quintal in the same period last year. At Indore in Madhya Pradesh, onion prices averaged Rs 549.07 a quintal during April-May this year, up 39.39% from Rs 393.92 a quintal in the corresponding period last year.
“Definitely, the realisation is more than last year’s. But the farmers’ protest began in some areas in Madhya Pradesh as they expected higher prices due to the Bhavantar scheme implemented in the state,” director of National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation P K Gupta told FE.
Madhya Pradesh has fixed the benchmark price of onion at Rs 800 per quintal (Rs 8 per kg) for this year under the Bhavantar scheme with the promise that it would pay a subsidy of up to Rs 400 per quintal (Rs 4per kg) to farmers if mandi prices remain below the government-set rate.
In Indore, onions crashed to Rs 100-250 a quintal during last two months, but that was more due to quality issues, sources said. On the other hand, Haryana, which is the only other state to implement a Bhavantar scheme, has declared Rs 500 a quintal as the benchmark rate for onion. Officials in Haryana government said that since farmers in the state were getting either the benchmark rate or more, no payment has been made under the scheme so far. However, the state has been implementing the scheme for tomato crop since prices crashed.
Madhya Pradesh had earlier this year aborted its plan to implement the Bhavantar scheme for pulses and oilseeds due to fund crunch as it required more than Rs 4,000 crore against a budgetary allocation of about Rs 1,000 crore. It later approached the Centre to procure those crops at minimum support prices to help farmers.
India’s onion production is estimated to fall to 218.38 lakh tonnes in 2017-18 (July-June), from 224.27 lakh tonnes in the previous year, according to agriculture ministry data. The mandi arrival of onion in April-June at different places were also lower than arrivals at these wholesale market yards last year.
By: Prabhudatta Mishra