As farmers protest, Sharad Pawar urges Centre to lift ban on onion export

At Lasalgaon in Nashik – Asia’s biggest onion hub – farmers kept shops closed and brought trading to a standstill at the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) market.

Farmers in Maharashtra resorted to street protests on Tuesday against the Centre’s decision to ban onion export.

At Lasalgaon in Nashik – Asia’s biggest onion hub – farmers kept shops closed and brought trading to a standstill at the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) market. Angry farmers also squatted on the road and blocked traffic on the Mumbai-Agra highway.

Concerned with the steady rise in wholesale and retail prices of the kitchen staple, the Union government had on Monday prohibited the export of onions.

Following the ban, while protests were reported across Nashik and Ahmednagar in north Maharashtra, at Lasalgaon, the average onion price dropped from Rs 2,950 per quintal to Rs 2,700 per quintal.

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday urged Union Minister for Commerce and Trade Piyush Goyal to reconsider the decision and lift the ban on export on onions. He apprised Goyal about the protests and financial implications the ban would have on onion cultivators in the domestic market.

“I brought to the notice of Union Minister Piyush Goyal ji that onions are in good demand internationally and we have to been exporting them consistently. But a sudden decision by the central government is a major blow to India’s image as a reliable exporter of onions in the international market. Such a situation would give Pakistan and other onion exporters immense benefit,” he told mediapersons.

State Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal said: “The farmers’ unrest does not auger well. They have brought the entire trade and action process to a halt.”

“If the protests continue, the supply of onion in the domestic market will also be hit. Farmers will incur huge losses if the ban continues,” he added.

Almost 40 per cent the total onion cultivated in the country is produced during the Khariff season (June to October). Onions will be cultivated again in the Rabi season from November to April.

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