Sharad Pawar Demands Roll-back of Ban on Onion Export, Joins Farmers’ Protest in Nashik

Sharad Pawar Demands Roll-back of Ban on Onion Export, Joins Farmers’ Protest in Nashik
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Published By: Sheen Kachroo

Last Updated: December 11, 2023, 15:52 IST

The Centre has banned onion exports till March 31 next year to increase domestic availability and to keep prices in check. (Photo: News18)

Several farmers staged a ‘rasta roko’ (road blockade) on the Mumbai-Agra National Highway against the Centre’s decision to ban onion exports till March 31, 2024

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Monday joined a protest by onion farmers in Maharashtra’s Nashik district and demanded that the ban on export of the key kitchen staple be lifted immediately.

Several farmers staged a ‘rasta roko’ (road blockade) on the Mumbai-Agra National Highway against the Centre’s decision to ban onion exports till March 31, 2024.

Addressing onion growers in Chandwad village of Nashik, Pawar claimed the central government was ignoring the hard work of farmers and said cultivators need to be united and demand their rights. “Nashik can show the way,” said the former Union minister, who participated in the protest.

“I will go to New Delhi tomorrow and raise the issue with the authorities concerned as well as in the ongoing Parliament session. The state and Union government have the responsibility to help farmers,” he said.

The Centre has banned onion exports till March 31 next year to increase domestic availability and to keep prices in check.

Several activists of the NCP, Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT), CPM and various farmers’ organisations also participated in the agitation held at an intersection on Mumbai-Agra National Highway here.

The protesters organised a morcha from the Chandwad Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) and reached the highway where they staged ‘rasta roko’ (road blockade).

Traffic movement on the national highway was disrupted for some time due to the agitation. Police security was stepped up in the area.

Onion growers are small farmers who toil for a good crop, Pawar said, adding that during his tenure as Union agriculture minister, he never brought down the onion prices nor banned exports.

“The ban on onion exports should be lifted immediately,” he said. Pawar said farmers have suffered huge losses due to the unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Onion and grape growers are already facing problems. The ban on export of onions will increase their trouble, he said.

“The decision to stop ethanol production (from sugarcane juice and sugar syrup) is also dangerous. The government should provide help to the farmers,” Pawar said.

He claimed the Union government has “anti-farmer” policies. “We were forced to come out on the streets and stage rasta roko so that the government would wake up. This agitation is not only for Chandwad, but for the farmers all over Maharashtra and the whole country, Pawar said in his address.

He claimed that those who decide on policies do not care for farmers. Changing policies time and again is not good. The country, onion farmers as well as traders have to pay the price for it, he said. Pawar said the grape crop has also suffered huge damage and added that panchanamas (spot verification) of losses due to hailstorms have not been completed yet.

“Everyone should support the farmers, keeping politics aside. Farmers should get justice and their voice should reach the government. A price should be fixed (for purchase of onions by government) and help should be given to farmers. The ban on onion export should be revoked immediately, Pawar said.

Meanwhile, onion auctions, which were stopped indefinitely in wholesale markets of the district from Saturday, started at most places on Monday.

At the Lasalgaon APMC, the country’s biggest wholesale onion market, 150 vehicles of onions arrived.

The average onion price was Rs 2,200 per quintal, ranging from a minimum of Rs 1,500 per quintal to a maximum of Rs 2,600 per quintal.

Onion auctions also began at Vinchur and Niphad sub-committees of the Lasalgaon APMC on Monday.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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