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Onion Traders Declare Indefinite Strike in Nashik to Protest Government Policies

Onion Traders Oppose Sale of APMC-Acquired Onions from Farmers, Seek Review of 40% Export Duty.

Shivangi Rai
Onion traders have said that they suspended auctions in all agriculture produce market committees in Nashik district of Maharashtra and their protest will continue. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)
Onion traders have said that they suspended auctions in all agriculture produce market committees in Nashik district of Maharashtra and their protest will continue. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)

Onion traders in the Nashik district of Maharashtra have initiated a protest by suspending auctions in all Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs), sparking concerns about a potential shortage of this kitchen staple and an increase in retail prices.

This protest comes in response to the Union government's decision to raise export duties on onions by up to 40 percent, a measure set to remain in effect until December 31.

The Nashik District Onion Traders Association (NDOTA) announced their indefinite protest against the export duty hike. Their decision to halt onion auctions across APMCs in the district is motivated by the belief that this government decision will not only hinder onion exports but also impact onions in transit, resulting in substantial losses for farmers.

In response to this protest, the District Sub-registrar of Co-operative Societies issued an order instructing APMCs to suspend or cancel the licenses of traders participating in the strike, with a report on actions taken due by September 21.

Maharashtra's marketing minister, Abdul Sattar, expressed his disapproval of the traders' decision to observe a bandh (auction shutdown) and emphasized the need to adhere to established rules.

He stated that secretaries from the departments of cooperation and marketing would discuss the appropriate course of action, with the Nashik district collector expected to take necessary steps.

Notably, auctions of onions had already remained closed at most APMCs in Nashik district, including the prominent Lasalgaon market, since August 20. The traders had given the government until September 19 to address their demands. However, as their demands remained unmet, they opted to indefinitely shut down onion auctions

The traders' demands include the cancellation of export duties on onions, a 50 percent reduction in market fees, the involvement of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India (NCCF) in auctions, and a 50 percent subsidy on onion transportation.

As a result of these protests, onion auctions did not take place in any APMCs in Nashik district on the specified day, and no onions arrived at the APMCs.

The government order highlighted that Khandu Deore, president of the Nashik District Onion Traders Association, had written a letter to Minister Sattar on September 13, outlining their demands and warning of the auction boycott starting on September 19.

Minister Sattar subsequently scheduled a meeting with officials from the Marketing department on September 26 and urged the traders to defer their agitation.

However, the traders and brokers remained resolute in their stance, leading to the issuance of the order for immediate legal action.

Under the Maharashtra Agriculture Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 1963, all APMCs are required to make alternative arrangements to ensure the continued sale and purchase of agricultural produce in such situations.

APMCs have the authority to suspend or cancel the licenses of traders participating in strikes. The order emphasizes that APMCs must promptly implement these measures and issue licenses to new buyers interested in purchasing goods at the APMCs. Failure to comply with the order may result in actions taken against the board of directors and the secretary of the APMC.

In summary, onion traders in Nashik district, Maharashtra, are protesting against the government's export duty hike on onions, resulting in the indefinite suspension of auctions in APMCs. This protest has raised concerns about potential onion shortages and price hikes, with the government responding by instructing APMCs to take action against the striking traders. The traders have presented several demands, and negotiations are ongoing to resolve the issue.

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