The Indefinite Auction Freeze
Onion traders in Nashik district, Maharashtra, have taken a significant step by indefinitely suspending auctions in all Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs). This move has raised concerns about potential shortages and price increases for this essential kitchen staple in retail markets. The trigger for this protest is the recent decision by the Union government to raise export duties on onions by up to 40%, a measure set to remain in effect until December 31.
The Nashik District Onion Traders Association (NDOTA) is leading this protest, citing their strong objections to the export duty hike. A spokesperson for NDOTA stated, “In protest against the government’s decision to increase export duties, we have resolved to halt onion auctions indefinitely in all APMCs within the district. This increase in export duty not only impedes onion exports but also poses a threat to onions in transit, leading to significant losses for farmers.”
Maharashtra’s marketing minister, Abdul Sattar, expressed his concerns about the situation, noting that a complete shutdown of onion auctions, often referred to as a “bandh,” might not be the most appropriate course of action. He explained, “The secretaries of the cooperation and marketing departments will convene to determine the appropriate action in accordance with established rules, and the Nashik district collector will take the necessary steps.“
It’s worth mentioning that onion auctions in most APMCs in the Nashik district, including the prominent Lasalgaon market, the largest wholesale onion market in India, remained closed on August 20 during a previous protest. This earlier standoff was eventually resolved following the intervention of Union minister Bharti Pawar, who hails from Nashik district.
Demands and Impact of the Onion Traders’ Protest
The spokesperson for the Nashik District Onion Traders Association (NDOTA) emphasized, “We had given the government until September 19 to address our demands. As our demands have not been met, we have now decided to indefinitely halt onion auctions.” Among the demands put forward by the traders are the abolition of export duties on onions, a 50% reduction in market fees, the participation of NAFED and the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF) in auctions, and a 50% subsidy on onion transportation.
As a result of this protest, onion auctions did not take place at any of the APMCs in Nashik district on Wednesday, including the Lasalgaon APMC. Sources confirmed that no onions arrived at the APMCs on that day. Currently, only summer onions are available in the market, and APMCs remained closed on Tuesday due to Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.
In conclusion, the indefinite suspension of onion auctions by traders in Nashik district due to the government’s export duty hike has raised concerns about potential shortages and price hikes, while their demands for policy changes remain unaddressed. We have to wait for some time before making a buy decision.