Onions, a staple in Indian kitchen, is bringing tears to the common people and trouble to politicians.
The prices of the red bulb, considered the poor people's vegetable, in Mumbai's retail market was around Rs 60 per kg for the last few days and it may go up around Diwali. The impact could be witnessed in Lasalgaon in Nashik district, which is the biggest onion trading hub of Asia. A section of the traders are boycotting auctions at Lasalgaon since last few days.
The upward trend has come as a matter of concern for National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED). At a time when the campaign for the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly elections is at its peak, it has come as a concern for the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance and an opportunity for the opposition Congress-NCP and farmer's groups to target the government.
A leading commodities and agriculture sector analyst, Deepak Chavan, said that for a 60-day period from October10 to December 10, he does not see a change. "There is a demand supply gap, a shortfall of around 30 per cent," he said, adding that drought followed by unusual rain pattern has compounded the situation. The daily requirement of onion is 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes and for this two-month period around 34 to 36 lakh tonnes. "The import of 2,000 tonnes is insignificant and the export ban does not make practical sense," Chavan told DH.
He also said that between Dassera and Diwali, the consumption of non-vegeterian items goes up so as the demand of onion. "The institutional demand during elections too goes up," he said.
Meanwhile, former union agriculture minister and NCP founder Sharad Pawar has slammed the Narendra Modi government for its policies on agriculture sector.
The Onion prices at Lasalgoan market, the biggest spot onion selling market of Asia, touched Rs 38 per kg as the supply dipped. “Many small groups of farmers have joined hands to start protesting against the holding limit and the export ban. We are also supporting it. We demand the government withdraw both,” said Hansraj Wadghule, a local leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.
“Excess rainfall and an extended monsoon have led to massive crop damage,” said Suvarna Jagtap, chairperson, Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), Lasalgaon.
The agrarian crisis had deepened in the state during the past five years, according to locals. The APMC-Lasalgaon is planning to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to discuss the issue.