Mumbai, Sep 27 (IANS): A late Tuesday meeting between the striking wholesale onion traders, the state and Central government representatives remained inconclusive as the traders’ stuck to their prime demand of rolling back the 40 per cent export duty on the kitchen staple.
Present at the meeting were Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Agriculture Minister Abdul Sattar and other top central and state officials, besides representatives of major onion trading associations and other agencies.
Ajit Pawar and Goyal later said that the next meeting will be held at the latter’s office in New Delhi on Friday (September 29) with Sattar, other ministers and officials remaining present.
The onion farmers have also demanded that the NAFED and NCCF should purchase onion directly from the farmers in the APMC premises
Till then, Goyal, Pawar and Sattar appealed to the onion traders to call off their week-long strike and resume the auction of the vegetable in Nashik in the interests of all stakeholders.
“We have also requested the traders and NAFED to procure onion from the farmers to ensure they don’t suffer losses,” said Sattar.
The current situation arose after the Centre’s decision to purchase 2-lakh tonnes of onion at Rs 2,410/quintal through NAFED and NCCF, which was beneficial for the farmers and the consumers.
However, the onion purchased through NAFED and NCCF was available to private traders in other states at a lower prices, the traders in Maharashtra were compelled to sell their stocks at rates lower than the purchase price (Rs 2,410/quintal), thus running into losses, and resorted to the strike, which in turn hit the farmers.
As the state struggled to prevent losses to the farmers and keep onion prices reined in, the Centre imposed the 40 per cent export duty on the vegetable, adding to the woes of the producers and the traders, said an official.
The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut have slammed the state and Centre for the onion crises just as the festival season has started.
Sharad Pawar has termed the export duty as ‘unjust’ to the farmers, and said it's having international repercussions as now exports to some countries like Bangladesh have stopped completely.
Raut has also questioned the government’s alleged failure to resolve the onion crisis which has hit the farmers and traders both badly in the state.