Indian farmers, businessmen decry ban on onion export
Indian farmers and businessman had just started getting better prices for their produce which was washed away or spoiled in the heavy monsoons that hit the country's onion growing belt
The onion farmers and businessmen in India opposed the Centre's decision to ban the sudden export of onions across the country.
The sudden decision of the Central government to ban export of all varieties of onions "with immediate effect" has infuriated both onion farmers and businessmen, who had just started getting better prices for their produce which was washed away or spoiled in the heavy monsoons that hit the country's onion growing belt, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The farmer's organisations have warned of agitation opposing the ban.
Dr Ajit Nawale, general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), condemned the ban and said, "Recently, the Central government claimed that farmers have been given a big relief by making onions free from regulation and removing it from the list of essential commodities. This ban is a betrayal to the farmers. AIKS and other farmer organisations condemned the move and the Centre will have to face the consequences."
All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Dr Ajit Navale said the ban not only deceives onion growers from Maharashtra but across the country.
"Farmers are angry with this decision and have decided to protest by coming out on roads," he warned, alleging that the decision was taken because of the upcoming Bihar elections as high onion price are undesirable for any government seeking re-election.
Moreover, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has also opposed the Centre's decision and requested reconsideration.
According to a NDTV report NCP President Sharad Pawar - a key constituent in the tri-party combine governing Maharashtra - said he has discussed the issue with Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and urged him to rethink it.
"The ban jeopardizes India's export share in the onion markets of Gulf countries, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Mr Pawar said in a tweet, adding that it could allow other countries, such as Pakistan, to displace India.
Goyal told him that the ban on onion exports was proposed by the Union ministry of consumer protection on the basis of rising onion prices in the market and the decision will be reconsidered in consultation with the Union ministry of commerce, ministry of finance and ministry of consumer protection.
According to data from the Lasalgaon market, the price of onion doubled between March and September. In the retail market, the price of onions - a staple in Indian diet - has risen from Rs20 perkg in June-July to Rs35-40 per kg now - the trigger for government's ban on its export.
The ban comes three months after the central government tweaked the Essential Commodities Act-1955 to impose movement restrictions on food grains, potatoes, onions and other essential commodities applicable only in extreme conditions, such as war and natural calamity.
The supply disruption of onions is likely to continue until the next new crop hits the market in November.