Ahead of the arrival of the new crop of onions in the markets, the central government has lifted the export ban on the bulb from January 1. This comes even as the average traded price of onions in various markets of Nashik, in Maharashtra, is hovering around Rs 2,500 per quintal, with retail prices ranging from Rs 30 to Rs 40 per kg.
With the new crop arriving in Maharashtra, this move would give onion growers another avenue to sell their produce and ensure that they do not have to sell their crop at very low prices, said traders. Incidentally, in the last one month, majority of farmers’ bodies from the state, including the Shetkari Sanghatana, have supported the central government’s three new farm laws, against which thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting on the borders of Delhi.
On September 18, the central government had banned the export of onions after the average traded price of the bulb at Lasalgaon’s wholesale market crossed Rs 30 per kg. The ban was meant to prevent a further price escalation just before the Bihar Assembly elections. Farmers’ unions, including the Shetkari Sanghatana, had protested against the ban, which was introduced about a month after the central government had amended the Essential Commodities Act, 1960, to take onion off its list.
The export ban had hit onion growers in the state, with the Sanghatana threatening to throw onions at the residences of BJP MPs in protest. Dr Bharati Pawar, BJP MP from Dindori, Nashik, had taken up the issue of onion export ban and written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others, urging that the ban be lifted.
Onion growers in Maharashtra take three crops across the year — kharif (sown in June-July, harvested post October), late kharif (sown in September- October, and harvested post December) and rabi (sown in December- January and harvested afterApril). The rabi onion is often stored for months and sold in the markets later.
This year, heavy rain has taken a toll on the stored onion crop in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, leading to higher prices across the country. Heavy rain in October had also damaged market-ready kharif crop in Maharashtra, which had delayed the arrival of the produce in the markets. Traders and farmers have claimed that both the kharif and late kharif crop were damaged, and this was bound to lead to supply-demand mismatch in the days to come.
A shortage of quality onion seeds has also cast a shadow on rabi crop in the country. Along with these factors, lifting of the export ban may lead to price rise in the days to come.
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