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The Centre's decision to delist onion and potato from the APMC Act has prompted onion traders in Nashik — one of the main onion growing regions in the country — to consider establishing a private market that can be run on the lines of APMC.
Both traders and market committees in Nashik district in Maharashtra are waiting for the final government resolution that is expected after a meeting in Delhi on Friday, which will be attended by agriculture ministers and agriculture secretaries of all states.
“We have decided to open our own private market where farmers can auction onions on their own. This way they will not have to pay market cess fee and also save on money given to manual workers in the market,” Sohanlal Bhandari, president, Nashik District Onion Traders Association, told FE. Traders in Nashik have been at loggerheads with manual workers, refusing to pay higher wages demanded by the workers. They had recently refused to participate in onion auctions after a tiff with the manual labourers over the issue of wage hike, forcing the government to step in.
“The association is waiting for the government resolution, after which a meeting will be called and modalities will be worked out for the formation of the market. Now that there is no compulsion for either farmers and traders to sell onions and potatoes through the APMC, we can form a private market,” Bhandari said. The Nashik District Onion Traders Association has some 450 traders associated with it who control the onion business.
The meeting called by the Centre on Friday will consider two issues — delisting of fruits and vegetables from APMC Act and review of the Act for creating a national common market in food items with no barriers to internal trade. The meet will also consider government initiatives for maintaining stock and supply of essential food items such as onion and potato and improving post harvest infrastructure, value addition and containing wastage.
A decision of this nature, however, could impact business for the 14 odd market committees that chiefly run on onion auctions. CB Holkar, former member of Nafed, said he has advised the market committees in Nashik to stop accepting onions from July 7 if the GR comes through.
Bhandari said the government should purchase onions from the open market and sell the commodity at low prices to keep consumers happy.