Maharashtra farmers have set up an onion market

The Maharashtra State Onion Farmers Association is launching onion markets in key cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur to combat the alleged exploitation of farmers in APMCs and enable direct sales of onions to consumers.   Bharat Dighole, president of the organization, said that these markets will start functioning after Diwali and will be under the control of the organization. Dighole stressed that farmers are free to sell their produce anywhere in the state without the need for government permission to set up a market. He emphasized that farmers grow onions for consumers, not APMCs, and they set the price of the product, minimizing the role of intermediaries between farmers and consumers.  

 Onion growers of the state have decided not to bring their produce to  APMCs and awards. Instead, they sell their onions exclusively at their own markets, and APMC traders, retailers, and exporters have the opportunity to buy produce from these farmers’ markets.   The first market will be held in Pune and farmers will hold meetings to discuss the details of setting up a chain of markets in the state.   

 The crux of the problem

    For the past two years, onion growers in the state have expressed their displeasure over the functioning of APMCs, including Lasalgaon, recognized as Asia’s largest onion market. Farmers claimed that the Lasalgaon APMC did little to improve farmers’ incomes and create higher prices in the regional commodity market. Lasalgaon APMC, established on April 1, 1947,  handles significant trade volumes of 15,000 to 30,000 tonnes of onion. Lasalgaon traders say that India’s daily onion demand is 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes and the price of the crop depends on its arrival in the market. Farmers, on the other hand, dispute this claim, arguing that traders significantly influence market prices by manipulating the supply of onion supplies.

   Market surveillance

     Lasalgaon market is the main center of onion trade in India and local farmers say that around 125 main traders from 25 families have trade licenses and have a firm grip on the market. Farmers claim that the APMC refrains from issuing new licenses without the consent of those established traders.  A study by the Center for Agricultural Development and Rural Transformation, a Bengaluru-based institute for social and economic change, had earlier found that select influential traders with wide networks played a major role in hoarding onions and artificially inflating prices.

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