MahaFPC, the umbrella body of farmer producer companies (FPC) in the state, has stared offloading the 40,000 tonne of onions it had procured earlier, in the markets of Mumbai and Pune.
MahaFPC has been offloading the onions in markets which primarily cater to retail consumer centres to prevent any effect in the primary markets, where farmers directly sell their produce, said managing director Yogesh Thorat.
Back in March, when onion prices had plunged, MahaFPC had started procuring onions at the village level under the Price Support Fund (PSF) for NAFED. Till last week, it had procured 40,000 tonne of the bulb, mainly from the districts of Ahmednagar, Pune Nashik, Aurangabad, Osmanabad and Solapur. “Fifty FPCs had participated in the process and procured onions from nearly 10,000 farmers. The produce was stored in village-level storage structures,” said Thorat.
MahaFPC decided to offload the stock once prices started rising, and it is selling the produce in the secondary markets of Pune and Mumbai. “This way, we are insulating the farmers’ incomes from a price drop while the urban consumer gets the benefit of price correction,” he said.
Meanwhile, the export ban has continued to hit the price of onions, with the average traded price of the bulb falling by Rs 600 per quintal since it touched the year’s high of Rs 3,000 on Monday. Following the export ban, which onion farmers have been protesting against, prices dropped to Rs 2,401 per quintal by Wednesday.
“The sudden stoppage of exports has disturbed the markets so there will be some panic selling by farmers. But we expect things to stabilise in some days,” said a market source.
Prices may rise as the supply of onions will be lower than expected, after August rains completely washed out the kharif crop in Karnataka, which was to hit the markets in September. The stock of stored onions in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh has also sustained heavy damage.
Maharashtra remains the only source of supply of stored onions now. In March and April, farmers in Maharashtra had stored nearly 27 lakh tonnes of the bulb, of which 40 per cent have either been sold or lost in storage loss. This stored onion stock is expected to maintain the supply chain to the markets till November, when the new crop arrives.
The export ban, meanwhile, has caused major unrest in the onion belt, with farmers’ organisations taking to the streets to protest it. Former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is expected to lead a delegation to the Centre to seek revocation of the ban.
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