Onion politics from Mandi to Assembly

by Ana Lopez

Hearing the price of 2-4 rupees per kg of onion, farmers started shedding tears

(from our representative)
Mumbai: NCP leaders reached the Maharashtra Assembly on Tuesday with onions on their heads and wearing onion necklaces. The leaders had baskets full of onions on their heads. The NCP MLAs staged a sit-in protest and demanded fair price of onion to the farmers. Farmers upset with the continuous fall in onion prices at the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) stopped the onion auction on Monday. APMC is the largest onion market in Asia. The price of onion per kg has come down to 2 to 4 rupees per kg, due to which the farmers are angry.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress President and MLA Nana Patole while talking to reporters in the Vidhan Sabha said that answers to farmers’ questions will be sought from the government. He said that the condition of farmers in the state is very bad and farmers producing cotton, rice, maize, onion and soybean have been devastated. Farmers are in financial crisis due to non-availability of agricultural produce prices. Farmers have to throw onions on the road.
A representative of onion producers said that the government should immediately announce a subsidy of Rs 1500 per quintal on onions. Farmers demanded to buy onion produce at 15 to 20 rupees per kg. The farmers said that if their demands are not met, they will not allow the auction to resume at Lasalgaon APMC in Nashik district.
As soon as the market opened for the week on Monday, the minimum price of onion was Rs 200 per quintal, the maximum price was Rs 800 per quintal and the average price was Rs 400-450 per quintal as the auction process began. As a result, the angry farmers, led by the Maharashtra State Onion Producers Association, stopped the onion auction and started an agitation. On Saturday, 2,404 quintals of onions reached APMC and its price was a minimum of Rs. 351, maximum Rs. 1,231 and an average of Rs. 625 per quintal.
Bharat Dikhol, leader of the Maharashtra State Onion Producers’ Association, said that the government had announced Rs. per quintal for onions during the budget session of the state assembly. 1,500 subsidy should be announced immediately and replaced by the current Rs. 3,4 prices should be applied. 5 per kg, onions should be bought at 15 to 20 rupees per kg. If both these demands are not accepted today, the onion auction in Lasalgaon APMC will not start at all.
According to APMC sources, meanwhile, the concerned officials were holding meetings to resolve the issue. Tears came to the eyes of Rajendra Tukaram Chavan, a farmer living in Barshi taluka of Solapur district of western Maharashtra. When he sold five hundred and twelve kilos of onions, he got only two rupees. Chavan had traveled 70 kilometers to sell his onion crop in a mandi in the state’s Solapur district. However, the fruits of all this hard work were not good for Rajendra Chavan. A bumper crop of kharif crops was harvested in winter. Because of this, when he sold the crop in the mandi, he got only one rupee per kilogram. The extent is that after selling the onions, he was given a post-dated check which cleared after fifteen days. When transportation cost was deducted from the amount received, the profit was only two rupees.
We stand with the farmers: Chief Minister
MUMBAI: Amidst the ongoing discussion regarding the faltering onion prices in the wholesale market and financial assistance to onion farmers, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said in the Assembly on Tuesday, ‘We are on the side of onion farmers in the state. Onion procurement by NAFED (National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation) has started due to which the prices will go up.’ NAFED, an organization working under the Union Ministry of Agriculture, oversees the marketing of India’s agricultural produce cooperatives. Second of the ongoing budget session in the Legislative Assembly
On the day, Shinde further said that ‘onion purchase by NAFED has been increased by accepting our request and 2.38 lakh tonnes of onion has already been purchased from farmers. If there is no purchase center in an area, a center will be started there for farmers.’
In the Lasalgaon Agricultural Produce Market Committee affiliated to Asia’s largest onion market located in Maharashtra’s Lasalgaon, the price of onion fell from four rupees to two rupees per kilo. Due to which the angry farmers stopped the bidding of onion. The Chief Minister further said that there is no ban on the export of onions. Financial assistance will be given to the farmers if needed.’ Earlier, Nationalist Congress leader of Nashik district Chhagan Bhujbal questioned the Centre’s policy on onion by talking about the problems faced by the farmers.
A few days ago in this month, a farmer of Solapur district of Maharashtra made a profit of two rupees and fifty nine paise (2.49 rupees) after selling 512 kg of onions to a trader in the district. (PTI)

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