With falling domestic onion prices and rising financial stress among farmers, the Maharashtra government has requested Union food and public distribution minister Piyush Goyal to purchase around 2 lakh tonnes of onions across the state through its agency National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).
“Onion farmers are facing financial difficulties due to a fall in onion prices. Therefore, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has requested the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Supplies Piyush Goyal to buy 2 lakh metric tonnes of onion through Price Stabilization Fund through Nafed,” a statement by Maharashtra chief minister’s office said.
However, the statement from the CMO did not mention anything about the current selling price of onions in the state.
Onion is the main cash crop in Maharashtra and it accounts for 35 to 40 per cent of the country’s total production of the staple vegetable.
With a good monsoon, onion production is expected to reach 136.70 lakh metric tonnes in 2021-22, which is 20 lakh metric tonnes more than the previous season, the statement said.
“Overall market prices have come down drastically. Due to this, there is an atmosphere of despair and uneasiness among the onion growers,” the statement added.
Further, terming Sri Lanka as a large importer of onions, it said the exports to the neighbouring island nation fell apart due to the ongoing economic crisis.
“Due to the ever-changing situation in the international market, it is not possible for our farmers to get good prices from exports,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, beating past records, the Central government has procured 2.50 lakh tonnes of onion as a buffer for the 2022-23 season. The buffer size of onions for the current year is 0.50 lakh tons higher than the 2.0 lakh tons procured during 2021-22.
The onions that were procured from the rabi harvest season are meant for price stabilization in case the rates go up significantly during the lean supply season.
There have been several instances in the past when prices of onion shot up sharply, thereby needing urgent government interventions — including imposing stock limits on traders or restrictions on exports.
Rabi onion harvested during April – June accounts for 65 per cent of India’s onion production and meets the consumer’s demand till the Kharif crop is harvested in October-November.