Why onion prices are bringing tears to farmers' eyes
Why onion prices are bringing tears to farmers' eyes

The Narendra Modi government may have promised to double farm incomes by 2022, but farmers in the country's onion-growing regions are appalled at the bizarre market dynamics that keep its retail price hovering between Rs 20-30 a kilogram while they struggle to get even 10-20 per cent of the final cost.

The constant fall in prices and subsequent lower remuneration in the past few weeks has led to outbursts and protests where farmers have thrown tonnes of onions on roads, while one farmer made national news by sending his meagre returns to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Onion farmers blame the government and its arbitrary policies on exports and procurement for their plight. According to the Food Ministry, on Thursday, onions were sold for Rs 27 per kg in Delhi, for Rs 22 in Mumbai, for Rs 25 in Kolkata and for Rs 16 in Chennai. The retail prices were higher by Rs 2-5 last week.

At Nashik's Lasalgaon, the country's largest wholesale market for onions, prices for onions harvested in summer have fallen to Rs 100-300 per quintal while fresh arrivals have managed to get an average of Rs 800-1,000 per quintal.

Notably, the input cost for cultivation of a kilo of onions has been fixed at Rs 8.50 by the Directorate of Onion and Garlic Research (DOGR), a constituent body of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Sanjay Sathe, an onion grower from Nashik, came into the limelight a few days ago after he sent a money-order of Rs 1,064 to Modi as a mark of protest.

Aghast at the gloomy side of the market dynamics, Sathe sent the money-order to awaken the government to the situation. Last year, he sold onions at Rs 3,000 per quintal. He says the authorities do not have an answer for the sharp slump in prices this year. The situation is similar in other onion-producing states like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

By Saurabh Katkurwar 

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