Nashik onion growers in India start getting govt subsidy

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As many as 70,785 onion growers in Nashik district of Maharashtra have been allocated Rs 53.73 crore as part of the grant given by the Maharashtra government.

The state government had extended the subsidy of Rs 200 per quintal for onion farmers who had suffered financial distress due to fall in prices. Farmers who had sold their crop between November 1 and December 15 were eligible for the subsidy, with individual quantity being capped at 200 quintal. The subsidy has now been extended till April 15.

The downslide in onion prices last year had put onion growers in a huge financial distress. The government had then given a grant of Rs 200 per quintal and the subsidy was applied for the onion sold in November, December, January and also February (2018-19).

In the first phase from November, 71,437 onion growers were considered eligible for the grant. The government had allocated Rs 54.14 crore. Of this, Rs 53.73 crore has been disbursed in farmer bank accounts.

Significantly, a large quantity of onion was sold in the second phase of February and the government had therefore extended the deadline to March 31 for the subsidy. The deadline has been further extended to April 15, according to officials.

In the second phase, some 1.98 lakh applications have been received by the district administration. Out of these, 65,284 applications have been processed. These applications will be further sent to the district committees for scrutiny and the amount shall be disbursed among eligible beneficiaries, officials said.

Average prices in the wholesale markets of Nashik, the largest onion growing belt in Maharashtra, have been in the range of Rs 533-539 per quintal during January this year. Surplus onion in the markets had led to the dip in prices.

On a daily basis, some 23,510-25,780 quintal of onion arrive in Lasalgaon — the largest wholesale onion market in the country. Modal prices of summer onions had dipped below Rs170 per quintal due to the glut in the market, caused by heavy arrivals of the new Kharif onion even as old stocks of summer onions were yet to be exhausted.

Significantly, the crop area in Nashik increased from 1.24 lakh hectare in 2013-14 to 2.28 lakh hectare in 2017-18, while the production doubled from 21.42 lakh tonne to 46 lakh tonne. There has been almost an 80% rise in the area under cultivation of onions in the last couple of years.

Meanwhile, the arrival of fresh summer onions has begun in Lasalgaon in small quantities. These are fetching good rates as compared to kharif onions. The average wholesale price of summer onions was recorded at Rs 850 per quintal last week.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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