Farmers protest as onion prices crashes to 4-5/kg

The farmers' agitation against the sharp drop in prices marks an opposite situation which existed in December when onion prices had soared to Rs 85 a kg in the retail and Rs 70 a kg in the wholesale markets.

A worried government had then taken many steps, including removing import duty and banning exports to rein in prices.Prices have since then steadily fallen and crashed to Rs 4-5 a kg in wholesale markets after the fresh arrival of the commodity, even though it continues to sell at Rs 20-25 a kg at retail level.

The steep fall forced farmers to hit streets and they staged a rasta-roko on the busy Mumbai-Agra national highway between Pimpalgaon Baswant and Chandvad in the Nashik district, blocking traffic for over two hours.

At Lasalgaon, farmers hurled onions at passing vehicles. Pimpalgaon and Lasalgaon are the main producing regions in the country.Police sources said protesters numbering around 500 demanded that ban on onion export be lifted.

Wholesale markets in the district could not open for trading in the morning due to the protest.Changdevrao Holkar, Vice President, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) said that with the current prices, farmers won't recover even production costs, and the ban on exports must be lifted.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has also favoured export of onion, among other commodities, to protect the interests of the farming community.

Citing onion case as an example, Pawar said farmers, who were crying over crashing onion prices, should be helped to recover at least their cultivation cost and for that "if limited export is allowed and I think that will resolve the farmers problem.

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