Quality issues affect Nafed’s onion procurement in Maharashtra

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Updated: June 18, 2021 8:27 AM

Of the total procurement target set by the government after easing of the second lockdown, around 50,000 tonne of the commodity has been procured by NAFED, along with supporting farmer producer companies.

The Government of India maintains buffer stocks of bulb onion to make appropriate price stabilising market interventions.The Government of India maintains buffer stocks of bulb onion to make appropriate price stabilising market interventions.

Wholesale onion procurement by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) in Maharashtra for the Centre’s buffer stock has been facing issues of quality. Of the total procurement target set by the government after easing of the second lockdown, around 50,000 tonne of the commodity has been procured by NAFED, along with supporting farmer producer companies.

NAFED is to procure some 2 lakh tonne of onion as the buffer stock at the prevailing market rate under the Price Stabilisation Fund. Of the total target, Maharashtra’s share is 1.5 lakh tonne, of which 1.4 lakh tonne will be procured through farmer producer companies — Maharajya, Pruthashakti Farmer Producer Company and MahaFPC and the remaining 10,000 tonne through NAFED.

Sushil Sant, general manager, Nashik, who is overseeing the procurement process, pointed out that unseasonal rains in February and March had damaged the crop. “Only 20-30% of the crop is storable and good enough to be brought to the market. The procurement process has not been able to pick up speed because of this. Only 50,000 tonne have been purchased so far,” he said., adding that the procurement targets have remained unchanged.

At present, the farmer producer companies are paying farmers Rs 22.80 per kg for the bulb, which is an average of the modal prices of the last three days. Wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb, have been around Rs 1,900-2,000 per quintal due to a rise in demand.

Yogesh Thorat, MD, Maharashtra Farmer Producer Company (MahaFPC) – a federation representing nearly 303 farmer producer companies (FPCs) in the state, said the agencies have been facing quality concerns as the commodity has been deteriorating due to climatic conditions. MahaFPC has a target of 25,000 tonne.

Suvarna Jagtap, chairperson, Lasalgaon market committee, pointed out that summer onion stocks which are sought by procurement agencies are in short supply. At present, the market is flooded with the red onion variety, which has a shelf life of barley two-three months. Summer onion with a shelf life of six months is in short supply.

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