The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation has begun procuring onion in Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb, under the Centre’s price stabilisation fund.
The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed) has begun procuring onion in Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb, under the Centre’s price stabilisation fund. Top officials at the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) confirmed the development. Jaydutta Holkar, chairman of the market committee told FE that Nafed purchased 20 truckloads (one truckload contains 10 tonne) of onions on Wednesday and 15 truckloads from Lasalgaon Mandi on Thursday for the Delhi market. The onions have been purchased at the same rate as traders, he said.
Around 12,000 quintals arrived at the market on Thursday with the minimum prices at Rs 700 per quintal and Rs 1,780 per quintal and modal prices at Rs 1500 per quintal. On Wednesday, some 26,840 quintals arrived in the market with modal prices touching Rs 1,645 per quintal. Interestingly, while officials maintained that prices were high in Delhi, data from NHRDF reveals that modal prices were Rs 1,625 per quintal. Nafed officials said the procured onion will be offloaded at places where the stocks are low. The objective is to keep prices stabilised across the country.
Nanasaheb Patil confirmed the development saying a meeting has been planned in Mumbai on Friday to decide the working details of the purchase. CB Holkar, ex-director, Nafed, however, stated that the procurement has already begun under the Centre’s Price Stabilisation Fund ( PSF). The agency procured about 200 tn onion in Lasalgaon today at Rs 17-19 per kg, Lasalgaon-based trader Manoj Jain said.
Prices of onion have fallen by nearly Rs 6-8 per kg over the past one month. According to some industry observers, Nafed is using this as opportunity to procure onion and build a buffer for market intervention in case prices rise ahead of the festive season. However, Jaydutta and Patil maintained that this onion cannot be stored since it is already five months old and will directly be sold through retail outlets in Delhi. Patil said talks were in progress with Mother Dairy for selling the onion through their outlets.
Last year, Mother Dairy had not given permission. Holkar said this kind of an exercise would not serve any purpose since neither farmers or traders were benefited from the purchase. The onions will have to be sold immediately, he added and there are plenty of stocks in the country.
Nafed officials said there is no specified target for procurement. Sources pointed out that as much as `500-700 crore has been set aside by the government for procurement purposes. Nafed may expand their procurement to other markets as well, sources said. Interestingly, as much as 2,600 tonne of onion from Egypt imported by private traders has already reached the Mumbai port and another 6,000 tonne is expected to reach the port by Saturday. The arrival of onions will put a brake on prices, he said. The country had last imported onion in 2015 on both public and private account. State-owned MMTC had then invited bids for import of 10,000 tonne from Pakistan, Egypt, China and Afghanistan to boost domestic supply and check prices. The government had then started importing onions as retail prices had shot up to `80 per kg across the country due to shortage of about 5 lakh tonne.