Mumbai: On a second day today the onion growers across the state protested against a ban on export. The ruling Congress party and Shiv Sena also organised a state wide agitation demanding immediate withdrawal of the ban in the larger interest of the onion growers who are hit hard due to lockdown and struggling to stay afloat.
Nashik district, which is one of the largest onion producing centres at the national level, onion growers resumed auctions but reported a crash by Rs 800-1,000 per quintal at Rs 2,200-2,400 per quintal. On Monday when the Centre announced the ban, onions were auctioned at Rs 3,200 per quintal. On Tuesday, the prices crashed by Rs 1,000 per quintal.
Jayaddata Holkar, an onion grower from Lasalgaon said around 9,000 quintal was sold today at a lower price. ‘’In Nashik district nearly 90,000 quintal was auctioned which was worth Rs 2 crore against Rs 3 crore the farmers could have fetched if the prices were at Rs 3,200 per quintal. At the state level, about 15 lakh quintal worth onion was auctioned during the day but the farmers in a single day have incurred a loss of Rs 125 crore following fall in prices,’’ he noted.
Holkar said the farmers have no alternative to dispose of onions stored in storages even at a lower price. ‘’If the onion is not sold it will be damaged and the farmers won’t get any price. The new crop will come in the middle of October. This apart, over 15 tonne onions in 400 containers has been stuck at JNPT and Mumbai port. It is valued at over Rs 35 crore. If the government does not withdraw the ban, the farmers will lose heavily,’’ he added.
He said the Centre should have supplied onion procured and kept by NAFED in storages and supplied it to metros instead of resorting to ban.
Meanwhile, the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray decided to soon send a letter to the Centre with an appeal to lift the ban on export. Agriculture Minister Dadaji Bhuse said the MVA government delegation led by former union minister Sharad Pawar may seek the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an early withdrawal of ban on onion export.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP, which has been under attack, has swung into action and urged the Centre to withdraw the ban on export. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis wrote a letter to the Centre while the party MP Udayanraje Bhosle has criticised the ban saying it was Centre’s mistake and an unwarranted move.