Nashik: Farmers protested in several places in Nashik district in Maharashtra on Monday against the Union government’s decision to impose export duty of 40 per cent on onions till December 31, which they claimed will curb their chances of getting good prices for the kitchen staple.
The protests included a sit-in agitation on Nashik-Aurangabad highway in which farmers wore garlands made of onions and shouted slogans against the Centre’s decision.
Activists of the Late Sharad Joshi Shetkari Sanghatana also staged a rasta-roko (traffic stoppage) in front of Yeola APMC on Manmad-Yeola highway and sought rollback of the export duty decision.
The protest, which lasted for around 30 minutes, led to traffic queues on the arterial road, officials said.
Farmers said they were already distressed with natural calamities and the decision to impose export duty would further dent their chances of earning well from their produce.
“Already there is a drought like situation. Now, when we were starting to get good prices for our onions, the Centre takes a decision like this. This is injustice on onion farmers,” one of the protesting farmers said.
Earlier in the day, traders decided to close onion auctions indefinitely in all the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in the district, including at Lasalgaon, which is the largest wholesale onion market in India.
However, APMC sources said onion auctions took place in Vinchur.
The Nashik District Onion Traders Association had given the call to not take part in auctions of the kitchen staple indefinitely till the Centre rolls back its decision, sources said.
The Union government on August 19 imposed 40 per cent duty on the export of onions to increase domestic availability amid signs of increasing prices and in view of the upcoming festival season.
The export duty, which is the first time ever on onion, was imposed by the Finance Ministry through a Customs notification and will be in force till December 31.
Between April 1 and August 4 this fiscal, 9.75 lakh tonne of onions have been exported from the country. The top three importing countries in value terms are Bangladesh, Malaysia and the UAE.