Mumbai: The onion traders from Lasalgaon, which is largest onion producing and selling hub, on Wednesday decided to suspend the onion auction for unlimited period. This is expected to send onion prices soaring in the state and other parts of the country.
However, for onion growers, it will be bad news as they may have to sell onions at below the market price or dump them on roads, if the auction remains suspended for a longer period because of the nationwide lockdown. At Lasalgaon in Nashik district, on an average, 12,000 to 15,000 quintals of onion are auctioned.
The red onion was auctioned two days earlier at Rs 1,500 per quintal while the summer onion went for Rs 1,700 per quintal. However, the traders have decided to suspend the auction because of non-arrival of onion following the suspension of transportation and the sealing of districts.
Besides, there is drastic fall in the availability of labour at the auction site in Lasalgaon, as they are not able to reach the market for want of transportation.
NAFED Director Nana Saheb Patil said the demand, too, has dipped drastically -- as also the consumption -- especially from hotels and restaurants which are currently closed due to lockdown.
‘‘There is at least 50% more rabi crop in Maharashtra but the lockdown will impact its supply and sale in the market. There is also inadequate storage facility with the farmers and in that event the onion crop may be damaged, if it is not sold,’’ he added. Patil said there is demand in northern and north eastern states.
The government should facilitate the transportation through railways. Besides, there is export potential but if the time taken for quarantine on ships gets longer it will severely damage onions. ‘’Onion is an essential commodity.
The government needs to provide fair price to recover production cost of Rs 700 to 950 per quintal to the farmers. The Centre can seek the onion requirement from states and facilitate the supply from Maharashtra which will help the farmers and the consumers,’’ said Patil.