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Onion prices are to shoot up next week

Onion prices are likely to shoot up next week due to shortage of supplies to various markets across the country caused by the indefinite transporters’ strike.

A day after onion auctions resumed at Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb on Wednesday, around 5-6 lakh quintal onion is lying in warehouses for want of transport.

Moreover, the market is set to remain shut for the next three days from Friday — being the first day of Chaturmas (an auspeceous day for the Jain community) and the weekend beginning Saturday. This could well lead to a shortage in supplies, top officials of the market said.

Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, said that although the market reopened and auctions were resumed after three days, the strike continues to hamper transportation, making it difficult for traders to send supplies to other markets. Market officials said that more than 50% of the onion supplies are exported from Lasalgaon to other markets, and the APMC has more than 15-16 major traders who have been finding it difficult to send supplies.

Payments to farmer have also become difficult since the commodity is not moving, a senior official said. Due to the strike, transportation of onion in other states from Lasalgaon, Pimpalgaon Baswant and Nifad market committees has come to a standstill, he said.

Onion is supplied from Nashik district to Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Kolkata, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana. On an average, around one lakh tonne onion is sent to other states from the district on a daily basis.

Manoj Jain, a trader from Lasalgaon, said that traders have been facing hardships due to the absence of transport. Some of the supplies have been sent through railway rakes but a major portion of supplies are still lying in godowns because of the fear of the trucks being sent back and the agitation by the Maratha community as well, he said.

Jain said since the market will remain closed the next three days as well, consumers could face shortage in supplies. “But we are helpless since we are unable to send supplies because of no tranrport facilities,” he said. Onions are retailing between `20-25 per kg in the market. On Thursday, around 14,000 quintals arrived in Lasalgaon with modal prices touching Rs 1,150 per quintal.

Ashok Walunj, a wholesale trader at Vashi, however, said that supplies remained normal on Thusrday with some 125 truckloads of onions arriving in the market. Vashi gets onion supplies from all over the state and not just Nashik, and therefore, supplies were not affected. Should the strike continue, there could be some shortage, he said.