The decision of the Modi Government to ban the exports of onions has led to a wave of anger among the onion farmers in Maharashtra. On Tuesday, in Lasalgaon APMC market in Nashik district — the largest market for onions in the country — farmers and traders protested against the order by observing dharna in the market yard.
In the last one month, the wholesale and retail prices of the precious pink bulb have been moving northwards. The Centre, to check the price rise, swiftly moved in on Monday and banned the exports. On Monday, the retail prices had reached ₹60 per kg in upmarket areas of Mumbai.
Nitin Jain, a prominent onion trader from Lasalgaon market, said that on Tuesday there was no trading in the market due to protests by the traders and also due to incessant rains. Yesterday, the prices were about ₹3,200 per quintal. The ban will definitely affect the market and price is expected to decline by ₹500-700 A quintal.
In the Nashik APMC Market, the trading continued despite the ban with prices touching ₹2,000-2,500 per quintal. Onion trader Santosh Kalekar said that the market moved at a slow pace due to the news. Since yesterday, the prices of the bulb, depending on the quality, have dipped by ₹500-1,000.
Former Director of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed), Changdev Holkar, told BusinesssLine that the ban is very short-sighted and will greatly impact the export trade.
The Centre should have at least given some indication about the ban. This sudden move has led to about 500 export containers getting stuck in JNPT and other ports.
Former Union Agricultural Minister and Chief of NCP, Sharad Pawar, said in a tweet that the Central government has abruptly announced a ban on onion exports. This has led to strong reactions from the onion growing belt in Maharashtra.
Chairperson of Lasalgaon APMC, Suvarna Jagtap, told BusinessLine that the Centre, rather than fully banning exports, should have placed a minimum export price on per tonne of onions. It would have led to exports to only those countries who could afford those rates. In effect, about 50 per cent onions would have remained back in the country, which could have been redistributed across all geographies.
This move could have also been achieved by liquidating the 1-1.5 lakh tonnes, which is being held as buffer stock by Nafed.
Stir against Ordinance
PTI adds: Meanwhile, Punjab’s agitating farmers on Tuesday warned that any Punjab MP who supports the farm Bills in parliament will not be allowed to enter the villages as they blocked roads at many places as part of their state-wide protest.
Intensifying their agitation, the farmers said they were forced to take to streets because of the apathetic attitude of the central government over their demand for the withdrawal of the Bills.