Nashik Farmers Rally Against Centre’s Sudden ban on Onion Export
Image Courtesy: PTI
Delhi: Led by the Prahar Janshakti Party, distressed onion farmers took to the streets at Ashok Stambh chowk to protest the unexpected Centre-imposed ban on onion exports. They were joined by activists from political parties like the NCP, Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT), CPI (M), and various farmer organisations.
Initially planning to voice their concerns at the residence of Bharti Pawar, the local MP and Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, the farmers were halted by police barricades at Ashok Stambh chowk. Refusing to budge until their grievances were heard, they insisted on an audience with Pawar to discuss the sudden export prohibition, the Times of India reported.
The demonstration at the busy Ashok Stambh area disrupted vehicular movement for over two hours.
The agitation gained momentum at the intersection of Mumbai-Agra National Highway. The farmers, originating from Chandwad Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), staged a road blockade, temporarily halting traffic. Heightened police presence was evident throughout the protest, as per reports.
The Centre's abrupt embargo on onion exports, intended to stabilise domestic availability and prices, has sparked uproar among the farming community. The exports are banned till March 31, 2024.
Deputy District Registrar (DDR) Faiyyaz Mulani and an aide of Bharti Pawar tried to appease the protesting farmers. Despite them claiming Pawar's absence at the residence due to parliamentary sessions and the lack of onion auctions in 13 out of 17 APMCs, it failed to assuage the farmers, the TOI report said. They also said discussions were on for the ban rollback.
Engaging in a conversation with Bharti Pawar via mobile, Ganesh Nimbalkar, Nashik's Prahar Janshakti Party district president, conveyed the farmers' dismay over the Centre's decision, according to the report. Nimbalkar highlighted the adverse impact on farmers' finances due to the ban on onion exports, causing wholesale prices to plummet. He emphasised the urgent need for selling the onions with their limited shelf life, expressing concern over substantial losses. Pawar assured efforts to reverse the ban, citing her discussions with Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on the matter.
NCP president Sharad Pawar also joined the protest in Nashik district. Addressing onion growers in Chandwad village of Nashik, Pawar claimed the central government was ignoring the hard work of farmers and said cultivators need to be united and demand their rights.
Pawar said farmers have suffered huge losses due to the unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Onion and grape growers are already facing problems. The ban on export of onions will increase their trouble
"Nashik can show the way," said the former Union minister. "I will go to New Delhi tomorrow and raise the issue with the authorities concerned as well as in the ongoing Parliament session. The state and Union government have the responsibility to help farmers," he added.
Onion growers are small farmers who toil for a good crop, Pawar said, adding that during his tenure as Union agriculture minister, he never brought down the onion prices nor banned exports.
Pawar said farmers have suffered huge losses due to the unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Onion and grape growers are already facing problems. The ban on export of onions will increase their trouble, he noted.
He claimed the Union government has "anti-farmer" policies. “This agitation is not only for Chandwad, but for the farmers all over Maharashtra and the whole country,” the NCP leader said.
Meanwhile, onion auctions, which were stopped indefinitely in wholesale markets of the district from Saturday, started at most places on Monday.
At the Lasalgaon APMC, the country's biggest wholesale onion market, 150 vehicles of onions arrived.
The average onion price was Rs 2,200 per quintal, ranging from a minimum of Rs 1,500 per quintal to a maximum of Rs 2,600 per quintal.
(With PTI inputs)
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