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From Burning Crops to Protesting in Maharashtra: The Agony of Onion Farmers in India

Maharashtra farmers conducted a protest march to Mumbai to draw attention to the sudden crash in onion prices. The protest was called off after assurance from the state and central government. Onion pricing is a yearly issue in India, where a shortage or surplus of supply can cause prices to soar or plummet. The Maharashtra farmers' demands include MSP for onions, proper pricing for agricultural products, and waiver of farmers' power bills.

Eashani Chettri
The Maharashtra farmers' demands include MSP for onions
The Maharashtra farmers' demands include MSP for onions

Maharashtra farmers conducted a foot march from Nashik to Mumbai in a protest about onion prices, wherein a 58-year-old farmer passed away. This was reported by the Shahapur police station in Thane district, informed the All India Kisan Sabha state general secretary Ajit Nawale.

The farmers have now called off the march, following an assurance from the state government and the centre. Farmers' leader JP Gavit Gavit said, “We have now decided to call off the march, following government assurance about implementation.”

What caused the farmer’s protest in Maharashtra?

Onion prices crashed suddenly over the past few weeks. Farmers had begun burning their crops in desperation, after sending an invite to the Maharashtra Eknath Shinde. Farmers had also mailed onions to the Prime Minister in an attempt to draw attention.

On Sunday night, thousands of farmers started a march from Dindori in Maharashtra's Nashik district and will travel 200 kilometres to reach Mumbai in order to attract the government's attention to a 17-point charter demand.

Farmers said that they only received 200–400 rupees per 100 kg of onions this year in the wholesale market.

Is this a frequent occurrence?

In India, the need for accurate onion pricing is a yearly occurrence. China produces more onions than anyone else in the world, with India coming in second. Every year, the nation produces about 24 million tonnes of onions. More than half of this is accounted for by Maharashtra.

Around 10–15% of the nation's total agricultural output is exported.

What causes the conflict in onion prices?

The staple ingredient of Indian cuisine and cuisines around the world is the onion. Onions are also very perishable, thus they should not be kept for an extended period of time.

Nowadays, onions have frequently changed the political landscape in India. A shortage can cause prices to soar and incite public rage that has in the past even brought down governments, while a surplus of supplies can cause prices to plummet and put thousands of farmers into financial disaster.

What caused the decrease in onion demand?

The decrease is primarily occurring as other states, namely UP, Bihar and Rajasthan are also harvesting onions at the same time.

What are the Maharashtra farmer’s demands?

The requests cover the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for onions, the proper price for agricultural products, the waiver of farmers' power bills, the prompt payment of crop losses caused by unseasonal rainfall, and the rights to forest land.

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