Onion prices rise again on farmers stir against trade curbs by govt

MUMBAI: Onion prices rose again in the last two days, after a brief correction early last week, due to a sharp decline in supplies, as farmers begin a trade boycott seeking withdrawal of recent export curbs and stock limits on traders. At the benchmark Lasalgaon market, onion prices averaged 3,650 rupees per 100 kg, after trading in a range of 1,300-3,825 rupees today. Arrivals were sharply down at 110 tn until 1100 IST.

"Current arrivals are just about 15% of what we received in the recent past," said Suvarna Jagtap, chairman of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee at Lasalgaon.

Arrivals in other markets such as Satana, Manmad, Yeola were also lower and rates have risen by 600-700 rupees, from Friday's close, at auctions, traders said.

Closure of the markets on Saturday and Sunday, and again on Tuesday due to Dussera, has already reduced supplies. With more farmers joining the stir, prices are set to go up further, Jagtap added.

After hitting a high of 4,600 rupees per 100 kg last month, the Centre banned exports, and also imposed a stock limit of 10 tn on retailers and 50 tn on wholesalers end of September, which has led to panic selling since then. Onion prices fell to 2,600 rupees on Wednesday.

However, a call to boycott trade by the farmers' unions pushed prices up by over 35% from last week's lows.

Meanwhile, Bharti Pawar, Bharatiya Janata Party's Member of Parliament in Dindori tehsil of Nashik district has been pursuing the farmers' demands with the Centre to avoid a backlash in the upcoming Assembly elections in the state later this month.

About 300 trucks of onion, destined for Bangladesh, were stopped at the border on account of the ban. However, due to Pawar's efforts, they were allowed to go ahead. Of these, over 200 trucks worth 2.5-3.0 bln rupees belonged to traders in Nashik district, Pawar said. Currently, onion is retailed at 60-65 rupees per kg in most parts of the state.

Nashik, which is the onion hub, has been receiving heavy rains again from Sunday with reports of damage to the onion crop, and others such as grapes, maize, tomato, vegetables, which will delay harvesting. With stocks of rabi onion likely to exhaust by the end of the month, prices are likely to rise further in the coming days.

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