Mumbai: The onion auction in Nashik district came to a grinding halt on Monday, after traders stayed away in protest against the Centre’s notification imposing stock limits.
Three days ago, the Government had issued a notification setting a stock limit of 25 metric tonnes for wholesale traders and 2 metric tonnes for retail traders across the country, to facilitate the release of stocks in the market and prevent hoarding by traders.
The Centre has asked the state governments to strictly enforce stock limits and carry out anti-hoarding operations against unscrupulous traders by organising raids.
However, traders cited problems in purchasing fresh produce at the auction following the imposition of stock limits. A leading trader from Lasalgaon, Nitin Jain, told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘Loose onions are auctioned in Nashik district and not packed, as in Ahmadnagar and other districts. Traders will have to do the grading, sorting, packaging and dispatching and only after this can they can go buy new stock at the auction.’’ He said this process would need at least two to three days and only thereafter could traders purchase stock at the auction.
In Nashik district alone, nearly 1.50 lakh quintals of onion are auctioned every day, in normal times. However, onion grower Jayadatta Holkar said, untimely rains had damaged onions put away in storage by farmers. Currently, at the daily auction, between 75,000 and 1 lakh quintals are sold, as farmers are busy disposing of stock in storage. “There is no auction expected to take place on Tuesday either, as traders have objected to the imposition of stock limit. The lack of auction may impact supply, which may affect prices, especially in the retail market,’’ he noted.
Onion prices in the retail market are currently in the range of Rs 90 to Rs 110 per kg, depending on the location.
Another trader said the auction would not resume until they get the government notification from the district collector.
The government’s decision comes days after it banned onion exports and later, relaxed norms for imports. It had also fixed the Minimum Export Price of US$ 850 F.O.B. per metric tonne.
A Central buffer of about 56,700 metric tonnes was built by the Government through NAFED during the rabi 2019 season. This buffer stock is being utilised for supplies to Delhi at a rate of not more than Rs 23.90 per kg. Haryana and Andhra Pradesh are also being supplied through this buffer stock. Other states have also been asked to utilise this buffer stock by indicating their demand to the Department of Consumer Affairs and/or NAFED.