Onion prices are once again in headlines in Maharashtra. While onion prices are giving relief to the consumers, it is making the farmers cry.
Frustrated with the falling prices of onions, the farmers stopped the sale of onions in the market, then the politicians adjourned the proceedings of the House. The funny thing is that both the government and the opposition are claiming to stand with the farmers.
Onion has been the name of the second day of the ongoing budget session in Maharashtra. NCP leaders arrived at the Maharashtra Assembly on Tuesday with baskets filled with onions on their heads.
The proceedings of the Legislative Council were adjourned for the day on Tuesday after Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Ambadas Danve demanded a discussion on the falling prices of onions.
Danve of the Thackeray group demanded a discussion in the upper house on the issue of rising onion prices, but Deputy Speaker Neelam Gore refused to discuss it, following which legislators from the ruling and opposition parties engaged in heated arguments and leveled allegations against each other. As the uproar continued, the House was adjourned for the day.
Speaking in the assembly, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that the government stands firmly with the onion growers and procurement of onions from NAFED has started.
He said that this government is giving justice to the farmers. The government has also extended more than the norm to the affected farmers. Nafed has been requested to procure additional onion, procurement has started. So far 2.38 lakh metric tonnes of onions have been procured and will be started wherever the procurement centers are closed. There is no ban on the export of onions either. Assistance will be announced to onion producing farmers as per their requirement.
In Lasalgaon, Asia’s biggest onion market, the price of onion has come down to Rs 2-4 per kg, due to which the farmers are angry.
Opposition legislators protested outside the assembly and created ruckus inside, demanding fair price for onions to the farmers.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress President and MLA Nana Patole said that answers to farmers’ questions will be sought from the government. The condition of the farmers in the state is very bad and farmers producing cotton, paddy, pigeon pea, maize, onion and soyabean have been ruined. Farmers are in financial crisis due to not getting the price of agricultural produce. Farmers have to throw onions on the roads.
Bharat Dighole, leader of the Maharashtra State Kanda Utpadak Sangathan, said the government should immediately announce a subsidy of Rs 1,500 per quintal for onions during the budget session of the state legislature and replace them with the current price of Rs 3,4, 5 per kg. But the onion sold should be bought at a price of Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kg. If both these demands are not accepted, then the onion auction will not start at all at Lasalgaon APMC.
On Monday, the minimum price of onion in Lansalgaon was Rs 200 per quintal, the maximum price was Rs 800 per quintal and the average price was Rs 400-450 per quintal. As a result, angry farmers led by the Maharashtra State Kanda Utpadak Sangathan stopped the auction of onions and launched an agitation.