Pune: The Lasalgaon Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), one of the largest markets of onions is closed since May 7 as a few COVID-19 patients were found in the nearby area of the main APMC.
“As a couple of positive patients have been found near the main Lasalgaon APMC on May 7, the market is closed since then. One of the sub-yard Vinchur is also closed due to the same reason. At present, only one sub-yard Niphad is functional. Testing is going on for more people in the area. Once the reports are received, a decision on the re-opening of the markets will be taken," said Narendra Wadhavane, Secretary, Lasalgaon APMC.
Sliding wholesale rates hitting farmers
However, reducing wholesale rates of onions are also impacting farmers who are facing losses as the cost of production is more than the market price.
Wadhavane said, “In Niphad sub-yard, a total of 6,000 quintals of onion arrived on Saturday. The wholesale price of onion was between Rs 300 and Rs 700 per quintal while the average rate was Rs 650 per quintal. Even before the main Lasalgaon APMC closed on May 7, the average price of onion continues to be the same. This is due to less demand as hotels and restaurants are closed and export is also affected. Therefore, there is only domestic household consumption which is very less as compared to the supply.”
Maruti Chinde, an onion farmer from Ahmednagar, said, “The average price of onion in the wholesale market is sliding and it is as low as Rs 6 per kg. This is hitting us very badly as our cost of production is around Rs 8 per kg. This year, the production of onion is very good but due to the disruption in the distribution network and a lack of demand due to the lockdown has hit the wholesale prices very badly affecting the farmers.”
He said, "Demand is very less as hotels are closed and also due to the pandemic, the distribution network is disrupted. The wholesale markets which are functional are also working with restrictions as there is a limited number of vehicles allowed, hitting the farmers badly."