Farmers, traders unite to blast centre's moves on onion control

Farmers, traders and officials of the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) on Thursday united to criticise the central government's decision to remove onions from the APMC Act and instead put the staple vegetable under the Essential Commodities Act.

National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) director Nanasaheb Patil said, in Nasik, a prime onion-growing district in Maharashtra, "The decision has been taken only with consideration to consumers, and without keeping the interest of farmers in mind.

''Moreover, the decision to determine the stock-holding limit is wrong because onions are a holdable commodity. Farmers store the summer onion crop harvested in April and May and it caters for the market needs until the arrival of the kharif crop by September end. The supply to the market will be affected if the stock-holding limit is imposed."

Patil, who is also the chairman of Lasalgaon APMC, added that the decision would affect farmers across the state. "We will soon decide on the issue following discussion with the farmers, traders and APMCs," he added.

Farmers too voiced their unhappiness with the sudden government decision. Balu Kanade, who grows onion through the year, said that in the absence of APMCs, they would not have any avenue to sell the crop.

Other farmers and traders as well as analysts have picked large holes in what seems a knee-jerk decision by the Narendra Modi government in the face of rising onion prices – an issue that has made and brought down Indian governments.