Around 1,500 farmers have tweeted tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CM Uddhav Thackeray, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar.
The Maharashtra state onion growers’ association (MSOGA) has urged the central and state governments to procure onions directly from farmers at Rs 2,000 per quintal. The demand has been made as several market committees in the state are still shut and the wholesale prices of onions have dropped to Rs 500-600 per quintal. The association has been highlighting the issue on Twitter, according to Bharat Dighole, president, MSOGA.
Around 1,500 farmers have tweeted tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CM Uddhav Thackeray, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar. The association reached out to farmers to use Twitter as physical agitation was not possible and is even educated them on how to reach out to the government using Twitter.
Dighole said the average price of onion in Maharashtra was at Rs 500 per quintal but as most of the market committees of the state are closed due to the coronavirus, the central government should, therefore, buy onion directly from farmers at Rs 20 per kg. The cost of production of onions is more than Rs 1,000 per quintal and farmers are ending up with losses as they are selling below this price, he said.
Onion auctions at Lasalgaon have come to a halt for an indefinite period following three cases of Covid-19 reported last week. Most other markets in Nashik district are also shut due to their proximity to Malegaon, another Covid-19 hotspot.
The National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) has also commenced procurement of onions at prevailing market rates of Rs 500 per quintal. Nafed is purchasing onions to create a buffer stock for the Centre with target of 50,000 tonne. Out of this, 40,000 tonne will be procured in different markets in Maharashtra and remaining 10,000 tonne from Gujarat. Nafed officials said that that although about 650 tonne has been procured so far, they are facing problems due to the closure of Lasalgaon.
The rates at Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon are applied by NAFED as standard but since these mandis are closed and the rates of rest of the mandis are lower, farmers are not happy with what we are offering, officials said. Due to lockdown, there is a labour issue as well. The agency is waiting for all the mandis to open on a regular basis so that the market rates stabilise and farmer expectations on rates are fulfiled.