Maharashtra: Farmers halt onion auction

Nashik: A day after the Centre banned the export of onions and imposed stock limits for traders, auction at the country's largest wholesale onion market at Lasalgaon in Nashik district was halted after protests by farmers over the fall in prices.

Sources said the farmers feel that in view of the upcoming Assembly elections, the government is more inclined to protect the interests of the urban consumer than the farmer.

Farmers staged demonstrations at the APMC, bringing onion auction to a halt, an official said. Farmers also staged a rasta roko on the Mumbai-Agra highway at Umrane and at Vincur on the Nashik-Aurangabad road.

"The government's decision to ban exports onions and limit onion stocks to up 100 quintals per retailer has made onion producers in Lasalgaon see red. They refused to sell onions in the wholesale market in Lasalgaon on Monday," a farmer said.

An official said onion arrivals in six trucks were auctioned on Monday – the minimum price was Rs 2,601 and the maximum Rs 3,351; the average was Rs 3,065 -- a drop of Rs 600.

Farmers alleged the Centre took the decision to ban exports and impose stock limits with an eye on the Maharashtra Assembly polls, even though onions are expected to arrive from the south as well as Pune, Chakan, Ahmednagar and Nashik in the next three weeks, which in turn would have naturally reined in the prices.

Farmer leader Rajendra Dhokale warned of an agitation if cultivators did not get fair price for their onion stocks, hinting that prices could crash drastically during the festival season that began with Navratri.

APMC chairperson Suvarna Jagtap spoke of approaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to press their demand for a rethink.

The auction at the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee resumed later in the day, traders said. ‘‘It’s not really right to look at the issue in terms of farmer versus consumer.

It’s absurd because they both need each other. The government had to ban the export of onions because the prices were soaring. Once the situation is back to normal, the ban will be lifted.

This happens across the world, it is part of economics,’’ Narendra Taneja,BJP National Spokesperson, was quoted as saying by The Print news portal.

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