Onion farmers in Nashik have sought an increase in the government grant up to R500 per quintal, though the government has decided to give a grant of R100 per quintal to farmers who sold onions at distress rates recently. The Maharashtra Cabinet on Tuesday decided to provide a grant of R100 per quintal to these farmers.
“Big relief. Maharashtra cabinet decides to give grant of Rs 100/quintal to onion producing farmers,” Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted after the Cabinet meeting. Under the decision taken by the Cabinet, farmers who sold onion produce in APMCs from July 1 to August 31 are eligible to avail this grant.
Each farmer is to get relief up to 200 quintals, the minister said. Due to surplus onion yield, wholesale prices of onion have drastically come down. Prices dropped to their lowest at 5 paise per kg. The state government recently sent a proposal to the Centre for its approval to give grant of R100 per quintal to the onion farmers, who are incurring losses due to a crash in prices. The R60-crore proposal to be shared by the Centre and state government is expected to help around 3 lakh onion farmers in the state.
The Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) , Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and the Jai Kisan Farmers’ Forum have demanded the grant of R500 per quintal for onions. Jaydatta Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, said the grant given by the government is too small and is of no help to farmers.
In 2008, the government had given grant of R100 per quintal but the cost of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, labour charges and transport have increased. Now, the government needs to give grant of R500 per quintal to save farmers, he said. Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh had earlier said that a proposal has been sent to the Centre seeking the deposit of the money into farmers’ accounts. half of the grant will be borne by the state government and the remaining 50% should come from the Centre, he said.
If sanctioned, the proposal will reach over 300,000 farmers in the state. More than 12 lakh tonne of onion is waiting for buyers at APMC markets in Nashik and several hundred thousands of tonne have rotted due to lack of buyers and poor storage facilities.
Holkar said they had placed two demands before the government from their side — grant of R500 per quintal for farmers who had already sold their produce at distress rates, and the purchase of the remaining onion by government agencies since the new crop is expected to hit the markets in September.
Holkar had sent a representation to Subhash Deshmukh seeking a grant of R500 per quintal for farmers who sold their produce at distress rates a couple of months ago. He has also urged the minister to consider a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1500 to R2,000 per quintal for farmers who still have stored onions. The new crop will hit the markets by the end of September and there is excess onion in the market, he said.
Excess onion production has saturated the market, pulling down onion prices. The production cost comes up to R845-900 for a quintal of onion and currently, farmers are getting poor market rates of R550-600per quintal, making a loss of R300-400 per quintal.The cost of production of onion in the state is one of the highest in the country and the yield is the lowest.
Nanasaheb Patil, director, NAFED, said that this year, farmers have been getting rates below the cost of production during all the three seasons — kharif, late kharif and rabi.
What was being sold at R850-900 per quintal after a month-long strike and continuous rains in the monsoons saw the rates dropping below R650 per quintal. Arrivals also dropped, he pointed out. “The government’s proposal will not be too effective. The grant will not help at all,” he said, adding that he will visit Delhi on September 1 to meet officials.