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Maharashtra: Onion Farmers Protest on Highway; Stop Auctions in Some Nashik APMCs

Over 500 farmers blocked the Mumbai-Agra highway seeking roll-back of Centre’s decision to impose 40% export duty.
Maharashtra onion farmers protest

Representational image.

Mumbai: Onion auctions resumed for some time in a few APMCs in Nashik in Maharashtra on Thursday after being stalled since Monday even as more than 500 farmers blocked the Mumbai-Agra highway seeking cancellation of the Union government's decision to impose 40% export duty on the kitchen staple, officials said.

Auctions began at the APMCs in Lasalgaon, the largest wholesale onion market in the country, as well as Pimpalgaon and Chandwad in the morning but were stopped later after the farmers did not get the Rs 2,410 quintal as promised by NAFED, an apex organisation under the Union Agriculture ministry, and NCCF, they said.

Officials said farmers also stopped the auction since personnel from NAFED, or National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited, were absent during the auctions.

"In Lasalgaon, as many as 300 vehicles laden with onions arrived for auction in the morning with minimum price per quintal being Rs 600, the maximum being Rs 2,500 and average at Rs 2,251. In Chandwad, the price range was Rs 1,700-1,800 per quintal," an official said.

The auctions started at 8:30am but lasted only 15-20 minutes, with farmers displeased, the official added.

While auctions had not resumed till late afternoon, officials exuded confidence they would begin later in the day.

Later, more than 500 farmers took part in a stir in Chandwad in the rural part of the district seeking withdrawal of the export duty decision.

The arterial road was blocked for almost one-and-half hours before police rushed to the site and managed to get the protesters off the stretch.

The stir against the export duty has been underway in the district since Monday, which had also affected the auction of the kitchen staple till Wednesday.

The Union government on August 19 imposed a 40% duty on the export of onions to increase domestic availability amid signs of increasing prices and in view of the upcoming festival season.

The export duty, which is the first time ever on onion, was imposed by the Finance Ministry through a Customs notification and will be in force till December 31.

Between April 1 and August 4 this fiscal, 9.75 lakh tonnes of onions have been exported from the country. The top three importing countries in value terms are Bangladesh, Malaysia and the UAE

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