Published On : Sat, Jul 30th, 2016

Six lakh tons onions rot in Nasik as strike by merchants enters 18th day

Representational Pic

Representational Pic

As the price of vegetables and other essential commodites makes consumers cry all over the country, the onion farmers of Nasik – the biggest centre for growing onions in the country- watch helplessly as their precious harvest is rapidly rotting where it is stored in their godowns.

At a conservative estimate, from the stock of 20 lakh tons stored with Nasik farmers, 30% i.e. 6 lakh tons has already perished due to the rains and damp weather.

Since the last 17 days these hapless farmers have not been able to sell any of their produce to Onion merchants who are holding them hostage on the issue of how the onions are to be packaged.

All these years, onions have been carted and sold in open trolleys. But in just one meeting of the main merchants it was decided that henceforth they would accept onions only when they were packed in woven plastic bags called ‘Gonis’. This led to confusion among the farmers. Where to get these bags from suddenly? How to change the system overnight, specially when their produce was ready and any delay in unloading it meant mounting losses?

Merchants have on the other hand dug in their heels and refuse to budge from their demand. They are on strike refusing to buy onions brought in trolleys. The puchase is ritually through auction method.

Farmers are furious at this turn of events. As it is, this year was not very favorable for them agriculturally. They were not getting the commensurate price to cover all their expenses of inputs. Government wasn’t coming up with a supportive M.S.P. And now this new calamity!

“We will stop growing onions from next year. Neither the state government nor the central governments are serious about our problems. Every day they prove that there is no one safe guarding farmers’ interests in this country. They pretend to fight about ‘corruption’ and ‘rights of consumers’ but what do they really do about it?

Till now, consumers are getting onions at an affordable prices since demand annually goes down in the rainy season. But if we refrain from growing it next year, onion prices can go sky high. Then they will assign the blame to us!” Says Ajay Raut, a disgusted farmer of Nasik.