In what could result in a steep hike in onion prices, traders of the wholesale onion market at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi threatened to go an indefinite strike, following in the footsteps of the Nashik market.
Agitating against the ban on exports by the Centre, the APMC market was shut for two hours on Friday, from 8am to 10 am. The protestors included traders, mathadis (head loaders) and farmers.
They marched to the APMC secretary Sudhir Tungar's office and submitted a memorandum to him.
While business was resumed at 10 am, protestors threatened an indefinite strike from Monday, if the ban was not lifted.
If this happens, it could cause a steep rise in onion prices, which have already increased by 33% since the onion market in Nashik shut down, following the export ban. At present, the price of onion in the wholesale market is Rs15.
The onion produce from the APMC market is supplied to all of Mumbai and surrounding areas. The strike would cause a severe supply crunch in the market, causing retailers to push up prices.
"The government has to withdraw the ban immediately, or by Monday we will shut our market indefinitely. The ban has badly hit farmers and is affecting traders as well," said Chandrakant Patil, a local corporator and market leader.
Elaborating on the protest, Ashok Walunj, an APMC director and trader. "The market is united in its stand that the export ban should be lifted immediately. More than 2,500 people joined the protest today because every one is losing out."
On their course of action, Sanjay Pingle, an onion trader said: "Only our market was shut today, we will solicit the support of other markets as well and shut all wholesale markets."
"Why such a knee jerk reaction? Onion prices were not rising steeply when the ban was announced. Shouldn't the farmers make some money on their produce?" Pingle added.