Nashik: On May 10, Pune farmer Devidas Maruti Parbhane sold almost a 1000 kg of onion at the city’s wholesale market. At the end of his transaction, he had earned Re 1.
Mr Parbhane’s was not a rare distress sale. A bumper crop in Maharashtra has meant that prices have hit rock bottom. For farmers in the state, already struggling with a severe water shortage, it is a nightmare compounded.
Devidas Parbhane, 48, sold his 952 kg of onion for Rs 1523.20, at less than Rs 2 a kg. He spent Rs 1320 on transport, Rs 91.35 on commission, Rs. 77.55 on labour and Rs. 33.30 on other expenses.
Left with a rupee in hand, the distressed farmer said, “The government should help us by waiving off some of our bills.” Mr Parbhane says his losses this season have now mounted to Rs 80,000.
Farmers who have sold onions at Asia’s largest wholesale market in Nashik have been more fortunate than Mr Parbhane, but not by much. They have managed to get 4 or 4.5 rupees per kilo, with prices dropping by three times since April.
“We should get Rs. 1100-1200 per 100 kg for these onions as we invest Rs. 7-8 per kilo for them. We got only Rs 400-450. We even need to bring in water from others fields to grow them,” said Shankar Tupe, an onion farmer from Nashik.
Maharashtra produces about 25 to 30 per cent of the country’s onions, a staple whose price in the past has been seen to determine election results. Prices have plummeted this year as the state has produced 203 lakh metric tonnes of onions, 13 lakh MT more than the 190 lakh MT produced last year.
To draw the government’s attention to their plight, a delegation of onion traders met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on May 23.
“We have suggested keeping a fixed rate and giving a subsidy of Rs 300 to 400 a quintal so that most of the produce can be exported,” said Jaydatta Holkar who heads Nashik’s Agriculture Produce Market Committee.