The APMC officials pointed out workers usually come to the market yard on pick-up trucks, however, the police have been acting against them as social distancing is not maintained onboard the pick-ups.
Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market for onions, is reverting to the auction of onions in the loose format instead of jute bags that had been used since the beginning of the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak. Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) chairperson Suvarna Jagtap said auction of loose onions shall commence from May 4, following the demand from farmers.
Farmers are finding the use of gunny bags expensive. Since a bag costs around Rs 40, they lose margins while selling onions, she said, adding that sometimes there is shortage of bags as well. “We have attempted the use of gunny bags for a month and now it is time to revert to the auction of onions in loose format,” she said. This method has been popular in Nashik district for several years.
Traders on Thursday were unwilling to start the auction of loose onions over the issue of workers’ transportation. A meeting between traders and Lasalgaon APMC officials ensued and failed on Thursday. Traders said they would require an adequate number of workers if they were to start the auction of loose onions.
The APMC officials pointed out workers usually come to the market yard on pick-up trucks, however, the police have been acting against them as social distancing is not maintained onboard the pick-ups. According to Jagtap, arrivals are currently in the range of 12,000-15,000 quintal . It is easier to maintain social distancing if tractors are used, she said and added that the two shifts in market timings are – four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening – to avoid crowding. Sanitisers are used extensively and the market is also sanitised after the auctions are conducted, she said.
Jaydutt Holkar, former chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, and director, Mumbai APMC, had placed a demand for the method of auctioning loose onions. It is unfortunate that in these difficult times of lockdown, farmers also have to bear the additional expense of gunny bags instead of selling them loose, he said, adding that this method of selling onions in loose format is likely to begin from May 4.
The National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) also wants to start procurement from Lasalgaon and wants to procure loose onions instead of buying these in sacks for easier storage. Meanwhile, the average wholesale onion price at Lasalgaon dropped marginally by Rs 50 a quintal on Thursday due to lack of demand. The average wholesale prices at Lasalgaon APMC touched Rs 850 per quintal as against Rs 900 per quintal on Wednesday. The minimum and maximum wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon were recorded at Rs 500 and Rs 912 per quintal, respectively, on Thursday.