Onion auction to remain closed indefinitely in Nashik wholesale markets to protest 40% duty on export: Traders

File photo of women packing onion at a godown in Pimpalgaon, Nashik

File photo of women packing onion at a godown in Pimpalgaon, Nashik | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

Traders in Nashik on August 21 said they have decided to close onion auctions indefinitely in all the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in Maharashtra’s Nashik district to protest against the Centre’s decision to impose a 40% duty on the export of the kitchen staple.

In view of the decision, the onion auctions remained closed at most of the APMCs in the district on August 21, including at Lasalgaon, the largest wholesale onion market in India, sources said.

Traders claimed the central government’s decision to impose 40% duty on the export of onions till December 31, 2023 will adversely affect the onion growers and its export.

Also read | Onions to be made available at ₹25 as buffer stock burgeons

The decision for the indefinite closure of onion auctions here was taken on Sunday in a meeting of the Nashik District Onion Traders Association, its president Khandu Deore said on Monday.

“In case onions are brought to an APMC, as the decision will take time to reach farmers, then the auction of those onions will be conducted and thereafter the process will remain closed indefinitely. This was also decided in the meeting, as per the request by various organisations of farmers,” he said.

At some places, onions were brought and their auction began at the APMCs, as per sources.

Sanjay Pingle, onion-potato market president at the Vashi APMC in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, urged the Centre to rethink over its decision of imposing 40% duty on the export of onions.

Talking to PTIMr. Pingle claimed the government’s decision would adversely affect the onion growers in the State.

“We are also under a lot of pressure from farmers asking us to shut down the market and stop the sale of onions. At least 10-15 associations have asked us not to sell the onions. The entire Nashik district is observing a closure (of onion auction) today. In the coming days, local markets will also close. The APMC has also decided to support the farmers,” he said.

“If we pay 40% duty to the government, then the rate of the onion which we were exporting for ₹25 (per kg) will drop down to ₹15. At this rate, we will be forced to purchase onion at ₹10, which will not even cover a farmer’s production cost,” Mr. Pingle said.

He claimed some agency has given a “wrong report” to the central government (over the issue), and not taken into consideration the rise in expenditure on fertilisers, labour cost, etc on the production of onions.

“Even today, there is a balance of 80% onion stock in Maharashtra and 70% in Madhya Pradesh,” he further claimed, adding that due to less rainfall, there has been a good production of onions in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

If 10 years back the price of onion was ₹10 (per kg) and now after considering the production cost it it ₹17-18, there is not much increase. It is around ₹25-30 in the wholesale market and ₹35-40 in retail, he said.

Mr. Pingle urged the government to provide onion through the public distribution system (PDS), as is being done for rice and wheat.

“If you want that the poor people get onions at a cheaper rate, then sell it through PDS at ₹2 to ₹10 (per kg),” he said.

He also claimed that due to the Centre’s decision, the export of onion will drop drastically and facilitate more income for farmers in Pakistan, Iran and Egypt.

Mr. Pingle also urged that Union Minister Nitin Gadkari take up this issue with the Centre.

He said in the coming days, they will take a decision on this issue as “we want to be with the farmers”.

The Centre should call a meeting of the stakeholders and then only implement this decision, he said.

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