“Prices remained stable due to consistency in demand and supplies as well as export potential. However, the month of February saw a decline in prices of red onion, particularly in the State of Maharashtra where the modal rate dropped to Rs 500 -700/quintal,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement.
Experts attribute this fall due to increased production in other states, reducing dependence on the supplies from the major producing district of the country — Nashik, it added.
In view of falling prices and to protect the interest of farmers, the ministry has directed two cooperatives Nafed and NCCF to immediately intervene in the market for the purchase of red onion. Nafed began the procurement on February 24 and has already purchased 4,000 tonne at above Rs 900 per quintal directly from farmers so far, the statement said.
Nafed has opened 40 procurement centres where farmers can sell their stock and get their payment online. It has made arrangements for the movement of the stock from purchase centres to Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi, it noted.
The government has been creating a buffer stock of onion in the last few years under the Price Stabilization Fund scheme to keep the supply chain smooth during the lean seasons.
In 2021-22, Nafed purchased 2.51 lakh tonne of rabi onion for buffer. This year, the government aims to buy 2.5 lakh tonne. The Centre is in touch with state governments and keeping a close watch on the market so that additional interventions, if required, are taken for the benefit of farmers, as per the statement. Onion production in the country is pegged higher at 318 lakh tonne in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) against 316.98 lakh tonne in the previous year.