As the slide in onion prices across wholesale markets continue unabated, calls for providing export subsidies and delisting the bulb from the essential commodities list have grown. “Failure to address the issue now would result in bloodbath in the onion markets from June onward,” said Nanasaheb Patil, director, Nafed.
Since the last two months, prices of onions at wholesale markets have been on a downward spiral causing much distress among growers. Although the Centre had subsequently reduced the Minimum Export Price (MEP) to zero, exports have failed to take off.
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With wholesale prices of the bulb hovering between Rs 7.50-8 per kg, farmers’ organisations have threatened agitations in case the government does not step in immediately to improve the prices. Patil, also the director of Lasalgaon Market Committee, said that urgent steps need to be taken to improve the export market.
“Over the last few months, exports have actually fallen, which is a worrisome trend. Instead of one lakh metric tonnes of exports, only 80,000-85,000 metric tonnes are being exported at present,” Patil said. In order to boost exports, he said subsidies should be provided immediately.
“The National Agricultural Marketing Federation should get into the export market itself. The losses incurred can be compensated through the price stabilisation fund,” Patil added. He, however, said that the matter should be resolved before the commencement of monsoon.
“Sri Lanka is a big market for Indian onions and motorised boats are used to transport the good. Once the monsoon starts, such transport would stop,” Patil said, adding that other than export subsidies, the stock limit imposed on the bulb should be lifted immediately.
Recently, the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) had represented a report to the state government suggesting ways to fix the slide in onion markets. While the state cabinet is expected to take a decision soon, officials said that both long term and short term measures should be taken to fix the glut.
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Commodity expert Dipak Chavan said that there would be further glut in the market and prices would slide further June onwards. He said that the effect of the present slide can be felt well over the present season. “The market might see a sharp rise in prices during the summer from next month. Onion plantation might see a dip due to lower prices now which would effect the prices then,” he added.