The onion trade in the state is in a crisis and the Lasalgoan wholesale market in the Nashik district has recorded the lowest price in five years of the bulb in the current year. Jaydutt Holkar, chairperson of the Lasalgaon market committee, said the Rs 4.25 per kg modal price realised last Friday, September 10, was the lowest ever recorded price in the past five years.
Onion prices have been subdued in the past few months with excess production and ban on exports affecting the market. Although exports seem to have picked up after December, prices across wholesale markets have failed to recover. In view of the downward trend in prices, the state government had announced Rs 100 per quintal as subsidy to onion growers who had traded at markets between July and August.
The Lasalgaon market had seen 20,595 farmers trading over 2 lakh quintals of the bulb in the time period and the cumulative subsidy due to them would be at least Rs 3 crore. Earlier this year, NAFED had procured at least 15,000 quintals of onion to check the price drop. However, Holkar said at least 90 per cent of the stocked onion rotted, resulting in a loss of Rs 15-20 crore to the government. “Instead of wasting this money, it could have been given to the farmers to help them out,” he said.
Lasalgaon market records showed that on September 9, 2015, the modal price of the bulb was Rs 48. 50 per kg, and the same was Rs 14 per kg on September 9, 2014. Arrivals were less during September 2015, while the year before this witnessed similar arrivals as at present.
This present crisis in the onion trade, Holkar said was after two continuous years of drought which had wrecked the agrarian economy of the state. With no sign of the subsidy amount in sight, Holkar feared more drop in the onion prices. Agriculture Commodity researcher Deepak Chavan ruled out any immediate chance of price escalation. “Calculations show that the country has over two months of onions in stock. Already early kharif onions have started arriving in the markets of Karnataka so chances of any price correction till November are slim,” he said.