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Onion exports ban: Maharashtra supplies hit amid auction boycott call

Nanda Kasabe
Market sources attribute the uncertainty in the atmosphere leading to a drop in arrivals.

With the Sharad Joshi-led Sanghatana calling for an 'Onion Satyagraha' in Maharashtra from Monday in protest against the Centre's decision to ban onion exports and impose limits on stocks, supplies have been hit badly in most onion markets in the state leading to a hike in prices.

Arrivals at Lasalgaon, the country's largest wholesale market for the bulb, on Wednesday were around 2850 quintals with modal prices going up to Rs 3,551 per quintal. Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) chairman Jaydutta Holkar said that arrivals have drastically dropped and the auctions were completed by 11 am due to poor arrivals. Market sources attribute the uncertainty in the atmosphere leading to a drop in arrivals. Prices therefore have gone up to Rs 3,551 per quintal on Wednesday from Rs 2,651 per quintal on October 3.

Lasalgaon was closed on Tuesday for Dussehra and reopened on Wednesday morning to close operations by 11 am. Arrivals at Lasalgaon plunged to 1370 quintals on Monday - the lowest in 2019. On January 10, the arrivals at the market were 730 quintals but the mandi was closed on that day and the consignment was a spillover from the previous day. In neighbouring Pimpalgaon market, arrivals were around 4,500 quintals while modal prices ruled at Rs 3,400 per quintal. Atmaram Kumbharde, chairman, Chandwad APMC, said that the some 1,500 quintals were traded on Wednesday and the market was shut early because of the rally of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the region.

On the Centre's directives, the state government has asked all APMCs in Nashik district to maintain a daily record of procurement of registered traders, which has resulted in a price drop. Top officials revealed that a daily report has to be submitted to the deputy district registrar (DDR) on the daily procurement of onion, which has led to a drop in both arrivals and procurement by traders. Arrivals have dropped down to 2,000-3,000 odd quintals from 10,000 quintals before September 29.

Holkar said that the supply position has changed, with little onion left with farmers and time for the new crop to arrive in the markets. Market sources however said that stock limits imposed by the government has resulted in few traders willing to purchase onions. Anil Ghanwat, national president, Shetkari Sangatana, said that response to the call for an 'Onion Satyagraha' was positive and most markets in Ahmednagar, Nashik and Sangli saw very little trade happening on Wednesday, with a drastic drop in arrivals. "We have been in touch with traders in Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur to appeal to them to keep markets closed, he claimed. A meeting is scheduled with the representatives of Pune APMC on Thursday and the response of traders in other parts of the states will be closely watched," he said.

Ghanwat said that the farmers are suffering heavily because of the Centre's decision to ban the exports of onion. Prices have collapsed and it has become difficult for farmers to recover the cost. "We will continue the agitation until the Centre revokes its decision," he said. He said that the agitation of the farmers' association will be fought in two phases. The farmer body is urging farmers to call for boycott of the ruling party meetings and voting for the candidates of those parties till the onion trade is stopped and the farmers are given full trade freedom and technology freedom. He said the government should hold discussions with farmers and traders about removal of restrictions.