Fearing further drop in onion prices, farmers seek lifting of export ban
Farmers in the onion belt of the state fear the prices of onions that are stabilising now will stumble further down as they are expecting a bumper yield this season. They demanded that the government should lift the ban on export of onion as farmers are at a loss.
On Tuesday, farmers in Nashik protested at the collectorate demanding immediate intervention by the state government to prevent further fall in prices.
After the spiralling of prices in the middle of the year, area under onion cultivation increased by 10 per cent in the state. This was more prominent in districts such as Nashik, Pune and Ahmednagar.
Deepak Pagar, a farmer from Nashik, said there was around 3 lakh tonnes of onion ready with farmers and more than 4.5 lakh quintal is expected to be ready by next month.
Due to the sudden increase in production, the prices at the wholesale markets across the state have seen a free fall, with it failing to rise above Rs 2,000 per quintal.
On Monday, the highest price for onion in the Agricultural Market Produce Committee (APMC) in Pune was Rs 1,500 per quintal while at APMC Lasalgaon it fetched Rs 1,100 per quintal.
A total of 1,400 quintal of onion arrived in the market on Tuesday.
Pagar, who also heads the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghathana (SSS) in northern Maharashtra, said since the prices of onion had gone up, the government had stopped its export.
"Preventing exports have resulted in fall in prices in the wholesale markets and farmers are at a loss. On an average, a farmer had to invest Rs 1 lakh per acre for onion cultivation, while the prices they are fetching now is only Rs 30,000 per acre," he said.
However, senior officials with the agriculture ministry said no decision is likely to be taken regarding allowing of onion export. "Prices of onion had hit the skies just a few months ago and the government is not likely to take any decision on its export. At most, the import of onions from Syria and other countries have been stopped," said an official.