Aggrieved by the central government’s sudden ban on the export of onions, the Maharashtra government is expected to take up the matter through official channels. The state government is going to highlight the “injustice” done to onion growers in Maharashtra and seek revocation of the ban in a formal letter to the Centre, said sources.
At the end of the summer harvest season, onion growers in Maharashtra had stored up around 27 lakh tonnes of the bulb, of which 60 per cent stock remains. The country has seen a bumper of crop of onions this year, with cultivation area of the bulb increasing to over 9 lakh hectares compared to 7 lakh hectares last year.
Speaking to The Indian Express, sources said the ban has hit onion growers the hardest and urgent measures were needed against it. They also pointed out that the ban has come at a time when onion prices had started rising after remaining low for months. “Onions were selling at very low prices earlier in the year… before prices finally rose in August. Now, when prices have risen, the export ban seems to be very anti-farmer,” said a state government official.
The average price of onions at mandis in September this year has been around Rs 1,750 per quintal, much lower than the average of Rs 2,813 last year.
The ban also comes at a time when demand for Indian onions is at an all-time high. Between April and May 2020, nearly 4.4 lakh tonne of onions was exported from India. “The present ban is not justifiable by any account and has caused great distress to onion farmers,” said the source.
Even BJP ally and former state minister Sadabhau Khot has spoken out against the export ban.
Earlier this week, the central government decided to ban the export of onions to control the rising price of the kitchen staple. Onion prices in major wholesale markets of the country have been on an upward trend after heavy rain destroyed the kharif crop in Karnataka in August.
In most wholesale markets, the bulb is now selling for over Rs 24-30 per kg, while in retail markets the price is around Rs 35-40 per kg. The ban is an attempt to cool down prices before the new onion crop arrives.
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