Last month, the state government had announced subsidy on onion sold from November 1 to December 15, due to the drop in onion prices.
The Maharashtra government has given the go-ahead to extend the subsidy of `200 per quintal for onion farmers by a fortnight. Till now, farmers who had sold their onion between November 1 and December 15 were eligible for the subsidy, with individual quantity being capped at 200 quintals. Now, the chief minister has given an in-principle approval to extend the subsidy till December 31, 2018, Subhash Deshkmukh, Maharashtra minister of cooperation stated.
The minister said that the demand had come up from farmers during a meet in Solapur and he immediately got in touch with the CM Devendra Fadnavis, who gave the green signal to extend the scheme. This is an in-principle approval and report has been sought by the government from the market committees, he said.
Last month, the state government had announced subsidy on onion sold from November 1 to December 15, due to the drop in onion prices. However even today, onion prices continue to remain below `600 per quintal. Therefore, the demand was raised by farmers to extend this period till December 31, the minister pointed out.
Earlier, the application deadline for this grant was extended till January 25. Now, the beneficiary’s tenure will be extended till December 31. A formal proposal will be presented before the state cabinet soon and a final decision will be taken, the minister added. Tile now, some 70,000 farmers have applied for the subsidy. The minister said that a detailed report has been sought from the market committees so that more farmers can take advantage of the scheme.
Average prices in the wholesale markets of Nashik, the largest onion growing belt in Maharashtra has been in the range of `533-`539 per quintal. Surplus onion in the markets has led to the dip in prices. On a daily basis, some 23,510-25,780 quintals of onion arrive in Lasalgaon — the largest wholesale onion market in the country. Modal prices of summer onions had dipped below `170 per quintal due to the glut in the market, caused by heavy arrivals of the new kharif onion even as old stocks of summer onions which are yet to be exhausted.
Significantly, the crop area in Nashik increased from 1.24 lakh hectares in 2013-14 to 2.28 lakh hectares in 2017-18, while the production doubled from 21.42 lakh tonne to 46 lakh tonne. There has been almost an 80% rise in the area under cultivation of onions in the last couple of years.
A delegation from Maharashtra, led by Lasalgaon APMC, had sought a minimum support price for onion and implementation of the Bhavantar Bhugtan scheme for farmers last month. According to Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, farmers have stocks of nearly 2.5- 3 lakh tonne of the summer crop and therefore arrivals are the tune of 15,000 tonne on a daily basis. The new kharif onion is also being harvested and arrivals are beginning to pick up, causing a glut in the market. Traders from north and south have started buying the crop from MP and Karnataka instead of picking it from Maharashtra.
The Centre has also doubled export incentives granted under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) from the existing 5% to 10 % in the interest of farmers but exports are yet to pick up.
Maharashtra is the largest growers of onion in the country with an export share of 80%. Last week, three farmers in the onion belt of Nashik had committed suicide. They were allegedly debt-ridden and were hit by the crop failure.