Nashik | Onion auctions at all APMCs in Maharashtra's Nashik district, closed for three days now, will resume from Thursday as traders protesting the imposition of 40 per cent export duty on the key kitchen staple have decided to withdraw the agitation, a traders' representative here said on Wednesday.
The decision was taken in a meeting of the representatives of traders-exporters and farmers with Union minister Dr Bharati Pawar here on Wednesday.
After the meeting, Pawar also said a representative of the traders in Nashik informed in the meeting that they are withdrawing the decision of closure of onion auctions at the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and the operations there will start tomorrow.
"About the 40 per cent export duty, we will request the Union government to rethink and take a positive decision on the issue," she said.
Pawar, the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, is the member of Parliament from Dindori in Nashik.
Onion auctions at most of the APMCs in Nashik, including the Lasalgaon APMC which is known as Asia's biggest wholesale onion market, have been closed as traders are against the hike in the export duty on the kitchen staple.
Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday alleged that some "political opponents" are creating a "wrong picture" about the export duty slapped on onion, and urged farmers not to worry as the Centre has restarted procurement at Rs 2,410 per quintal for its buffer stock.
Goyal said the decision to impose 40 per cent export duty on onion has been taken to protect the consumers' interest, but at the same time the Centre has also decided to purchase additional 2 lakh tonnes of onion from farmers to avoid any panic selling.
After the meeting here on Wednesday, Nashik District Onion Traders Association president Khandu Deore said, "Our reasonable demand is that the Union government should think about traders while imposing any duty on onions. Traders do not create obstacles for farmers. Dr Pawar has given an assurance of giving a thought to the demand of traders." "As a result, we are withdrawing our agitation and starting onion auctions at APMCs in Nashik district from tomorrow," he said.
Pawar said, "In a meeting at the district collectorate today, Deore informed that the traders are withdrawing the decision of closure of onion auctions at the APMCs and the operations there will start tomorrow." The decision has been taken considering the welfare of farmers, she said.
"Along with the APMCs, the purchase of onions by National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) will continue. Farmers will have to take a decision to sell onions as per their wish and where they get a good price," the minister said.
Farmers' welfare is the ultimate goal of the Union and state governments,” Pawar said.
Traders have also performed well and their contribution to the export of onions is good, she noted.
Union minister Piyush Goyal has given instructions to the collector to give a detailed information about the containers of traders stranded at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Raigad) and other places, she said.
"The government will take a decision about it and provide help for sure. About the 40 per cent export duty, we will request the Union government to rethink and take a positive decision on the issue,” Pawar said.
She also appealed to Deore to start the auction of onions at places where it is possible on Wednesday itself.
District Collector Jalaj Sharma, Chandwad MLA Rahul Aher and NAFED officials attended the meeting.
At almost all APMCs in the district including Lasalgaon, onion auctions remained closed on Wednesday, but auctions were held at the Vinchur sub-committee of Lasalgaon APMC.
The agitation against the government's decision of 40 per cent export duty on onions continued in the district on Wednesday. Activists of the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar faction) staged a 'rasta roko' agitation near Shinde toll plaza on Nashik-Pune national highway.
The agitators shouted slogans against the Union government and threw onions on the road.
They demanded roll back of the hike in export duty on onions as well as Rs 4,000 Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the key kitchen staple.
The agitators also demanded that the import of tomatoes be stopped, farmers' electricity bills be waived and drought be declared in Nashik district.