Farmers in at least three districts in Maharashtra on Sunday protested at APMCs against the Centre's decision to impose a 40 per cent duty on the export of the kitchen staple.
Amid protests, state Agriculture Minister Dhananjay Munde said he would speak with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday and try to find some "amicable" solution to the issue.
A day after the Central government imposed a 40 per cent duty on the export of onions till December 31, 2023, wholesale markets at Satana, Malegaon and Lasalgaon (In Nashik district), in Ahmednagar, and at Manchar and Khed in Pune district saw protests by farmers.
Munde's cabinet colleague Chhagan Bhujbal said he would raise the onion export duty issue with the state deputy chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.
"I will request him to discuss this with officials in Delhi. We will try to take steps to find an amicable solution, Bhujbal told reporters.
A Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna (SSS) leader said protests will be held in wholesale markets across Maharashtra to mount pressure on the Union government.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole alleged that the BJP-Shiv Sena government is pro-industrialists and pro-businessmen.
"The state government is trying hard to keep the prices of onions low and it doesn't care about the interests of farmers. We condemn this decision (to impose the export duty on onions) of the Union government, he said.
Earlier in the day, onion growers in Rahuri tehsil of Ahmednagar district halted the ongoing auction of the bulb in the wholesale market.
The Union government's anti-farmer stand has again come to the fore. Farmers in Maharashtra were expecting good returns from onion exports, but the imposed duty has ensured that there will not be any export. The prices in the domestic market will crash and farmers will incur losses, said SSS state president Sandeep Jagtap.
Several parts of Maharashtra have received insufficient rainfall and this will delay the arrival of fresh onions in the market, he said, accusing the government of protecting the interests of consumers and ignoring farmers.
The Centre should also pay attention to our woes because the export duty has sent a message to traders that all the available onion is going to be sold in domestic markets only. Traders have now started quoting lower prices for our produce, a farmer protesting in Rahuri said.
According to sources at Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee, the largest wholesale onion market in India, there was a rise of nearly 45 per cent in the prices of the kitchen staple last week.
Onion was being sold at Rs 1,500 per quintal two weeks ago, and it jumped to Rs 2,200 in just one week. Now, the rates have started coming down, as exports have become nearly impossible, a trader from Lasalgaon APMC said.