The price of onions is unlikely to drop anytime soon, thanks to a huge shortage in the availability of its seeds as well as rising cost of transplantation.
According to farmers, onion seeds which used to be sold at Rs300-500 per kg are now costing them Rs1,500-2,000. “And even after agreeing to pay such high prices, we are finding it difficult to get the seeds on time. We have to travel far to buy the seeds,” said Ashok Patil, a farmer from Dhanur in Dhule district.
Like paddy plants, onion plants also need to be cultivated on raised beds in the initial stage. Once the seeds turn into plants, they are transplanted into the farm land. The plants are delicate and perishable, and need to be handled with great care.
To add to farmers’ woes, even the cost of transplantation has gone up. “To cultivate one acre of land, we have to spent Rs15,000-Rs20,000 as against Rs3,000-Rs5,000 earlier. Due to excessive rain, a large number of transplanted onion plants were destroyed. I was forced to transplant them thrice, and spent Rs1 lakh to do this,” said Banudas Mali, another farmer and onion trader from Amalner in Jalgaon.
He added, “Now, I’m not sure I will recover the invested amount. I expect at least Rs100 per kg, because only then will I be able to afford this exercise.”
Prakash Gangurde from Lasalgaon, which is home to Asia’s largest onion market, said that due to the high price of onions, maximum number of farmers have decided to cultivate onions this year. “There is a huge shortage of onion seeds, but we will manage by buying the seeds at a higher cost. We will plant only onions because of the good price they are getting now,” he said.
Nanasaheb Patil, chairman of Lasalgaon Agriculture Product Market Committee (APMC) told dna on Monday that the shortage will last only till December.
“If some farmers get a good price for onion this year, then next year, other farmers will follow them and cultivate only onions. Then the huge supply of onion will crash the market, forcing many farmers to dump a lot of produce in their farms itself. The following year, very few farmers will cultivate onions due to losses. It’s a recurring phenomenon,” Patil said.