For the first time since 2013, onion prices have witnessed their sharpest decline, from Rs41 in August last year to Rs7.36 this year during the corresponding period. This is good news for consumers, however, farmers have been adversely affected.
On Wednesday, the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Nashik — Asia’s biggest onion wholesale market — recorded an average price of Rs6.25per kg for the crop.
The best period for farmers to yield profits on their onion produce is from August to September, as there are no other crops produced during this time. However, this year, onion prices have hit a low in August itself, leaving farmers harrowed.
Consumer bodies have demanded state intervention to stabilise the prices of essential commodities by fixing a Minimum Support Price (MSP) and an approximate Maximum Retail prices (MRP) so that consumer and farmers are not affected during surpluses or shortages.
“The government must stabilise the MSP and MRP by studying transportation, labour, packaging and other charges, as the overhead cost incurred by traders will remain the same irrespective of the supply of the crop. This will benefit both farmers and consumers,” said Anuradha Deshpande, member of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Farmers attributed the low price of onions to the shutdown of Nashik APMCs in July . “In July, Nashik APMCs remained closed for 17 days.After that, traders insisted on a packed supply of onion, which not many farmers were able to comply with. As result,a lot of onions remained stocked with the farmers. These onions have only now been brought to the market, thus increasing supply and decreasing prices,” said Khanderao Mapri, member of Shreevignahartha farmer-producer group, Nashik.
Consumer groups also demanded the proliferation of farmer-producer markets and cold storages to store excess yield. “It is unfortunate that we still make plans one year at a time. Developed countries plan for two to three years’ supply and store it to stabilise prices. It is obvious that the yield will not be the same every year so we have to plan and stock our crop for at least two to theree years when we receive a good yield,” said Sudeep Ramesh, Malad resident.