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Onion Farmers Protest in Maharashtra over Centre's Procurement Price Rs 2410, Traders' Rs 1500

Union Minister Piyush Goyal initiates onion procurement at Rs 2,410/quintal in Maharashtra. While the traders are offering Rs 1500 per quintal against the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed) price of Rs 2410 per quintal, which is why farmers boycotted trader's auctions over price disparities and export regulations.

Shivangi Rai
Typically, Nashik experiences daily auctions of over 1.5 lakh tonnes of onions. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)
Typically, Nashik experiences daily auctions of over 1.5 lakh tonnes of onions. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)

Union Minister Piyush Goyal has revealed that the Central government has initiated onion procurement at a historic price of Rs 2,410 per quintal in Maharashtra. He said that it is the highest price of onion set ever in history. 

This move aims to provide crucial support to farmers who have been facing challenges due to export restrictions on onions. Goyal stated that the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) had recently commenced the sale of onions to consumers at a subsidized rate of Rs 25 per kg nationwide.

He emphasized the government's commitment to both farmers and consumers and urged farmers not to panic and to sell their produce at advantageous rates.

Assuring the farming community, Goyal asserted that continuous dialogues were ongoing with key Maharashtra leaders, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He also mentioned discussions with Maharashtra Agriculture Minister and other state ministers to address concerns and ensure farmer welfare. The Union Commerce Minister underscored that the government was dedicated to stabilizing onion prices and would intervene to provide the commodity at subsidized rates of Rs 25 per kg in areas witnessing price hikes.

The recent surge in onion prices from Rs 30 to Rs 40 per kg prompted significant government actions. On August 17, an export tax of 40 percent was imposed to ensure domestic availability.

Additionally, the NCCF and NAFED extended their onion procurement targets from 3 lakh tons to 5 lakh tons, with 2 lakh tons being purchased at the elevated rate of Rs 2,410 per quintal. These agencies committed to selling onions at the subsidized rate of Rs 25 per kg, with the government covering the subsidy costs.

However, the imposition of export duties led to protests, notably at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) of Lasalgaon, Asia's largest onion market. The APMC suspended onion trading indefinitely to voice opposition to the export duty, subsequently sourcing onions within the state.

In an unexpected turn, onion farmers initiated a boycott of auctions at Nashik Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yards, advocating for a minimum price of Rs 2,410 per quintal, equivalent to NAFED's procurement rate.

Consequently, onion arrivals at Nashik's 15 APMCs dwindled. This stance caused a considerable drop in onion prices, with Lasalgaon witnessing auctions for only 2,300 quintals of onions at Rs 2,050 per quintal, and even lower at Rs 900 per quintal after a three-day trader boycott.

Pimpalgaon Baswant faced a similar scenario with 7,200 quintals of onions entering the market, priced between Rs 700 and Rs 2,000 per quintal.

Typically, Nashik experiences daily auctions of over 1.5 lakh tonnes of onions. Dissatisfied with initial offers of Rs 1,500 per quintal, farmers protested against the low prices, leading to a halt in auctioning at all APMCs.

Bharat Dighole, President of the Maharashtra State Onion Growers Association, conveyed that NAFED's offer of Rs 2,410 per quintal for buffer stocks was far more favourable.

Farmers have now issued a stern warning, stating that they will persist with the auction boycott until traders match NAFED's rates. This boycott could potentially disrupt onion supply chains not only within Nashik but also in other parts of the country.

Responding to the farmers' concerns, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde affirmed his full support, requesting the Center to expand NAFED's procurement centers in Nashik to alleviate the crisis.

Therefore, Union Minister Piyush Goyal's announcement of record-high onion procurement rates seeks to alleviate the challenges faced by farmers amid export restrictions. The standoff between farmers and traders underscores the complexities of price determination and supply chain management for this essential commodity.

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