Nashik onion growers seek relief of Rs 5/kg for 45-day period for government’s delay in banning exports

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The onion growers in Nashik are seeking a compensation of Rs 5 per kg for the period from February 1 to March 15 for the delay in the government’s decision to revoke the ban on exports.

A report in the Financial Express quotes Bharat Dighole, president, Maharashtra State Onion Growers’ Association, who pointed out that the government had already caused huge losses to farmers by banning onion exports. However, under pressure, it has finally relented, announcing to lift the ban, but delayed the exports to March 15, he said.

So, the association has sought compensation from the government at Rs 5 per kg for a period of 45 days. Moreover, the government should deposit the amount directly in farmers’ bank accounts, he said. The association has submitted a representation to the Nashik resident district collector.

Nearly five months after prohibiting onion exports, the Union commerce ministry has stated that the curbs will be lifted from March 15. “The government will allow export of onions from March 15 in the interest of farmers. This will increase their income,” commerce minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.

On September 29 last year, the government had banned exports and imposed countrywide stock limits on onion to bring down prices of the key crop that had soared anomalously ahead of elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.

The crackdown followed retail onion prices touching Rs 80 a kg in Delhi due to supply disruptions after floods in some states. In December last year, the prices hit Rs 160 per kg in certain parts of the country. The government’s decision to lift the ban was prompted by a sharp fall in prices due to bumper rabi crop, but it remained unclear when exports would resume. According to traders, at present nearly 70-80% of the onion crop is export-worthy, but stock-holding limits make exports difficult. The government has set stock limits of 250 quintal for wholesalers and 25 quintal for retailers. Demands from states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi have dropped due to Holi and therefore the traders are seeking removal of stock limits to stabilise onion arrivals in the market.

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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