In one of its biggest procurement exercises, Nafed has procured over 30,000 tonne of onions from Maharashtra this season and is likely to touch its target of 45,000 tonne in the state. MahaFPC the apex body of farmer producer companies in Maharashtra has played a major role in the procurement this season, having reached its target of 20,000 tonne.
Sushil Sant, general manager, National Agricultural and Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed), Nashik, said the procurement commenced in Lasalgaon from April 16 this year under the Centre s Price Stabilisation Fund and this supply will be used to augment supply when prices traditionally shoot up during July to September.
So far, Nafed had achieved targets and had crossed 30,000 tonne, he told FE. In the past 10 days, however, prices have been on the rise with the traders getting aggressive as well. Farmers have also begun stocking onions in anticipation of a hike in prices. Nafed is currently going slow but should be able to reach targets. We still have another month, Sant said.
On Thursday, some 10,000 quintal of onion arrived in the market with the modal prices touching Rs 1,100 per quintal. On Wednesday, modal prices were `1,120 per quintal and arrivals were 17,515 quintal. On Monday, 21,510-quintal arrivals were reported with modal prices in the range of `1,050 per quintal. This year, the government has decided to create a buffer stock of 50,000 tonne for onion.
Nafed has already reached 5,000 tonne in Gujarat and the rest from Maharashtra with majority of purchases by MahaFPC, Sant said. MahaFPC, which has a mandate to procure farm products under the government’s price stabilisation fund and price support scheme, already has a joint venture with Nafed named as MAHA Onion. The project aims at direct on-farm purchase of onions to save logistics costs and allow prompt payment to member farmers.
In 2018, Nafed could procure only 13,000 tonne against the target of 25,000 tonne. However, the target will be achieved this year since Nafed has tied up with farmer producer companies that will ensure onion storage at the ground level. Nafed started the onion purchase on April 15 in Lasalgaon the largest wholesale market for onion in the country. On April 16, onion was purchased at Rs 1,051 per quintal and `1,101 on April 18. About 24,599 quintal of onion were purchased in a single day giving income to 1.33 lakh onion growers.
Last year, onion growers were not able to even meet the cost of production because of low prices. This year, prices seemed stable in comparision, Nafed officials said, adding that the Centre s move to purchase onion from the Price Stabilisation Fund had put a brake on any further downslide in prices. The government has been buying onion for three years. This year, Nafed has doubled the purchase.
According to market reports, last year, after purchase by Nafed, there was a 30% rise in prices. Nafed has entered into agreements with the state and the Centre s warehousing for onion storage. The Union agriculture ministry expects a rise in production in comparison between the period of 2013-14 and 2017-18.