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Women’s Group Breaks Glass Ceiling at Lasalgaon Onion Mandi

Lasalgaon onion mandi is dominated by men, but recently, a women’s group entered and created a commotion.

Shipra Singh
Onions in mandi
Onions in mandi

Women are showing their mettle almost everywhere. However, there are certain areas where men dominate to such an extent that they do not want women to enter in their “territory.” One such place is the famous onion mandi in Lasalgaon. This is the biggest onion mandi or market in Asia. And this is ruled by men.  

So are most of the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs).  

However, an absolutely unimaginable thing happened at the Lasalgaon onion market recently. Women entered the mandi and this was seen as “invasion” by men present there. The commission agents (arhtiyas), traders, and farmers were annoyed (or you can say threatened?) to see women participating in the onion auction.  

The men were so agitated that they stopped the auction and decided to boycott it. However, the women refused to go back, in spite of the immense pressure to withdraw.  

The result? Women-led Krishi Sadhana Agriculture Produce Cooperative Society successfully procured onions for NAFED.  

What exactly happened? 

It happened in the first week of June. The Lasalgaon mandi witnessed a commotion. On June 3, the Director of Krishi Sadhana Society, Sadhana Jadhav, arrived at the Lasalgaon onion mandi to participate in the auction and purchase onions for NAFED. The society is appointed by NAFED as a nodal agency.  

However, the presence of women traders and farmers annoyed the men, who were present in the mandi and were not used to seeing women rubbing shoulders with them.  

As per a statement given by Sadhana Jadhave to media, APMC was not ready to listen to them when they informed that their society was appointed by NAFED as a nodal agency.  

This is what she said, “Traders decided to withdraw from the auction saying that our society is not a member of the local traders association. But there is no law that you must be a member of the association to participate in the auction. It’s painful that men are opposing our society this way.” 

What happened next? 

The Krishi Sadhana Society again participated in the auction on June 4. This time, APMC traders and officials had no choice but to let the society participate in the auction after Sadhana Jadhav produced all the required papers to them.  

What the APMC chairperson has to say 

The APMC chairperson Suvarna Jagtap claims that the society was not prohibited from participating in the auction because of gender discrimination, but because of some “technical” issues.  

She also clarified that out of 321 arhtiyas present in the onion mandi, 107 are women. Out of the 335 registered traders, 71 are women.  

The reality of onion mandi  

The reality is that Lasalgaon mandi has not witnessed any auction that has women participants so far. According to Jagtap, women send their representatives to participate in the auction.  

Sadly, this reality is not limited to Lasalgaon mandi. According to a woman farmer Madhuri Khadse, men functioning in APMC leave no stone unturned to prevent women from participating. They make things so uncomfortable for women farmers and traders that the women are discouraged to participate.  

Although trading licenses are under the name of women farmers, but their husbands go to the mandis and do the trading.  

According to a Census 2011, women’s participation in the agriculture scene does not give a balanced figure. It is okay in cultivation and labor work, but in case of trading, women are missing.  

The Census says that women as cultivators constitute 30.33 % of the farmer population (3.60 crores). Women as agricultural labourers constitute 42.67% of the labourers (6.15 crores). But, in the trading scene, there are no women!  

And it’s 2021!  

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