The onion auction at Nashik continued to be suspended, as traders stayed away for the second day on Tuesday, in protest against the Centre's notification imposing stock limits. Fifteen large market committees, including Lasalgaon, Niphad and Pimpalgaon in the district, remained shut after traders decided to keep away, expressing displeasure over the imposition of stock limits of 25 metric tonnes for wholesale and two metric tonnes for retail.
In addition, nine sub-market committees could not function as there was no auction. An average loss of Rs 50 crore is being incurred in the district daily because of the auction being a non-starter. These losses will increase if the standoff continues.
Meanwhile, farmers are worried that if the auction fails to resume, the onions in storage will be ruined and they will incur huge losses. For the second day in a row, about 75,000 to 1 lakh quintals of onion could not be auctioned in Nashik district alone, where loose onions are auctioned. Ultimately, consumers are continuing to be the worst-hit as they will have to shell out more money for the ubiquitous kitchen staple, following the suspension of auction and lack of arrival of fresh stock in the retail market.
Already, prices are ranging between Rs 90 and 110 per kg ahead of the festive season, at different locations in the state.Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal who is from Nashik, the leading hub in onion production and auction, alleged that a plot to destroy onion-growers and blamed the Centre for its recent decisions, including the export ban and increase in stock limits.
Bhujbal said the onion farmers were already hit hard by the pandemic and the recent decisions by the Centre have put them under tremendous financial stress. “The Centre imposed an export ban on onions and now, they are being imported from Iran and Pakistan. There have been income-tax raids on onion traders and the notification imposing stock limit has added to farmers’ woes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about doubling the farmers’ income but in case of onion growers, they are not even able to recover the cost of production,’’ he noted.
Bhujbal feared that if the auction failed to restart, onions in storage would rot and then farmers would have no choice but to commit suicide.