Farmers in Maharashtra are staring at stocks of unsold summer onions at the fag end of their shelf lives. Although, the Maharashtra cabinet has approved Rs 150 crore as relief to onion farmers who had to sell their produce at low prices, they do not seemto be very happy.
According to marketing department’s principal secretary, Anoop Kumar, the cabinet approved an ex-gratia payment of Rs 200 per quintal rate for onion sold between November 1 and December 15.
The compensation will cover a total of 75 lakh million tonne (MT) of onions. Summer onions, however, are selling at `150 per quintal and because of the availability of old stocks of onions, new kharif crop is not getting the desired prices and are selling at `500 per quintal, Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) said.
On Thursday, modal onion prices were selling at Rs 550 per quintal at Lasagaon with the minimum prices at `100 per quintal while maximum prices were at `925 per quintal. Arrivals were `11,800 per quintal. On Wednesday, while arrivals were heavier at `18,100 per quintal and modal prices were slightly better at `650 per quintal. Minimum prices were at `150 per quintal. The situation was similar on Tuesday.
According to Holkar, the grant of `200 per quintal was too meagre for farmers and would not even help them meet production costs.
“Farmers held on to their stocks before Diwali in anticipation of an increase in prices as in the season of 2017-18 when the government of Madhya Pradesh had purchased onions at `800 per quintal under the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana as support to farmers.Moreover, drought in Maharashtra also led farmers to believe that the prices could go up. But, none of this happened and arrivals began in full swing from the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka that saw a drop in demand for onions from Maharashtra,” he explained.
Last week, 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.
Holkar had pointed out 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. New kharif onion is also being harvested and arrivals are beginning to pick up causing a glut in the market, he had stated.
Traders from the North and the South instead of picking onion from Maharashtra started buying it from MP and Karnataka, he said, pointing to the logistical advantage which cuts their transport cost and resulting into cheaper onion prices to customers and more profit for local traders.