Farmers, traders and the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Lasalgaon — the largest wholesale market for onions in the country — are seeking an increase in the benefit of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).
Farmers, traders and the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Lasalgaon — the largest wholesale market for onions in the country — are seeking an increase in the benefit of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS). Lasalgaon’s APMC Chairman Jaydutta Holkar has written to the government to increase the benefit of 5% under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for onion exporters to 10%.
According to him, in the absence of a long-term policy in the past 5-10 years regarding onion exports, the country has lost its premium position to other nations such as China, Pakistan and Egypt. “Pakistan has begun exporting its new crop of onion to Dubai. Therefore, there is less demand for the Indian onion,” he pointed out. Within the country, new crop arrivals have also begun from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Indian primarily exports onions to Asian countries — Bangladesh and Colombo. An increase in the MEIS benefit would help encourage export, he said. Holkar said that around 2-3 lakh tonne of summer onions still remain in stocks with 25-30% reduction in weight since they were stored from April-May this year and at the end of their shelf life.
The demand for red onion prices of summer onions are in the range of Rs 351 per quintal and kharif onions at Rs 1,051 per quintal. “ Farmers are forced to sell their produce below the cost of production and therefore, the government should begin a Bhavantar Yojana on the lines of the scheme begun by Madhya Pradesh government. Farmers should be given a grant of Rs 500 per quintal since they are forced to sell summer onions at Rs 351 per quintal,” he stated. Currently, the government gives a transport subsidy of 25-30% to exports for grapes, pomegranates and garlic.
A similar subsidy should be given to onion exporters as well, he said. Holkar urged the government to take advantage of the Bhutan-Bangladesh-India-Nepal corridor treaty and export more onions to these nations. The summer onions, harvested in March and April, are still arriving in the markets. Of the total arrival, 70% arrivals are of summer crop, while the remaining (30%) arrivals are of the fresh kharif crop. Farmers, who had stored summer onions in hope of better prices, have been incurring heavy losses.
The arrival of new onions has already begun in all onion-growing pockets in the country. That has reduced demand for Nashik onions. Moreover, arrival of fresh kharif onions was also a major reason for the drop in average wholesale onion prices of summer onions, he pointed out.
The cost of production for cultivating onions is around Rs 900 per quintal and farmers incur losses if they get prices below that. Summer onions have a shelf life of five-six months and farmers prefer storing summer onions as they hope for better prices. The government needs to provide compensation to the onion farmers, who have sold their produce at below Rs 900 per quintal, to save farmers from incurring heavy losses.