Maharashtra farmers ask Centre to stop onion seed export

Maharashtra onion farmers have asked the Centre to stop export of onion seeds considering the shortage in the domestic market.

“Farmers are buying onion seeds at ₹3,200-3,500 per kg. At the same time last year, the rate was about ₹1,700 per kg. Seed companies have blocked the supply to the market to create a shortage. The State and the Centre must take action against these companies and seize the seed stock and supply to farmers” Shailendra Patil, spokesperson of Maharashtra State Onion Producer Farmers’ Organisation, told BusinessLine.

The National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) is selling seeds at ₹2,200 per kg. Traditionally, farmers in Maharashtra buy seeds from private companies or NHRDF only if fellow farmers do not have seeds to sell.

This year, seed production was affected due to unseasonal rains in January and farmers are finding it difficult to get seeds for sowing. Maharashtra accounts for 33 per cent of India’s onion production.

According to market experts though there would not be an immediate effect on onion supply because of the shortage of seeds — the supply in April and May 2021 would be affected and consumers will have to pay a heavy price. As the demand for onion seeds from US and China has declined world over, Indian onion seed is in demand, said market players.

“Indian seed companies are more interested in exporting onion seeds than selling them in the domestic market. We have requested the Centre to stop the export of seeds. Already, farmers are suffering heavily because almost 30 per cent of onion stored by farmers in the State has been damaged because of rains. We are not in a position to buy onion seeds at higher prices” Patil said.

NCP MP Amol Kolhe in a letter to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said: “Farmers are already in trouble as onion prices are very low this year. The rotten onion stored 9by farmers) has created an economic crisis. Against this backdrop, the huge rise in prices of onion seeds and the resulting scarcity has only added to the woes of the farmers. Onion seeds are being exported to 20 countries through the Director-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). Stopping this export will provide abundant onion seeds to the farmers of the country and will also control inflation.”

Meanwhile, farmers are also complaining of substandard onion seeds being sold in the market.

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