Maharashtra reduces Minimum Export Price for onion but farmers not happy
Following numerous agitations by onion farmers, and with legislators raising the issue of falling prices at the wholesale markets in the assembly and the parliament, the government has finally announced that it would reduce the minimum export price (MEP) by $300 (Rs20,144). The farmers in Nashik, however, said that it is of little help and the MEP must be scrapped completely.
With a bumper crop of red or pol variety of onion this winter, the supply from the farmers to the wholesale Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets has increased. This increased supply, however, has led to a fall in the prices. Over the last 15-20 days, onion prices have fallen by around Rs1,000 per quintal.
“Inconsistencies of nature had caused many problems for the onion crop this season. Earlier it was drought, and then unseasonal rains. All this led to a rise in the cost of production. Hailstorm at the time of seeding increased the cost of seeds, which went up from Rs1,000 to Rs3,000 per kg. cost of pesticides also increased and the labour is becoming expensive by the day. All this took the production cost to Rs 50,000-60,000 per acre,” said Vijay Jadhav, an onion farmer from Chandwad.
He added that while at present the yield appears to be more, most of it is wet due to unseasonal rains at the time of harvesting, and so its quality has been affected. “The falling prices at the onion auction leaves farmers no where. We are hardly meeting the cost of production. If the government reduces the MEP, the export will increase and the supply in the domestic market will stabilise, which will in turn steady the prices,” said Jadhav.
Narendra Wadhavane, a farmer from Lasalgaon, agreed. “With high MEP, traders are forced to send the onion to the domestic market, where the supply is ample. Such nominal reduction of $700 to $300 is not going to help much. We have to see the export rates of our neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and China,” he said.
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