BHOPAL: With onion prices crossing the century mark, farmers in Khandwa and Mandsaur districts of Madhya Pradesh, hoping to fetch handsome prices, are guarding their crop like precious gold. Their watchfulness is not without a reason. With several incidents of onion theft reported in the onion growing districts of the state, the farmers do not mind keeping awake at night and maintaining a tight vigil.
“In previous seasons, we couldn’t even recover the cost as we were forced to go for distress sale. This season, with prices of onions soaring, I hoped to fetch handsome prices for the crop that was to be harvested in a 9-10 days. But the thieves uprooted crops worth `30,000 on Monday,” said Jitendra Dhangar of Richha village in Mandsaur, the victim.
A week ago, a trader from Nashik in Maharashtra had lodged a case of theft of onions worth `20 lakh from a Gorakhpur-bound truck in Shivpuri, MP. In Dondwada village of Khandwa district, onions worth around `2,000 were stolen from the fields of one Mahendra Patel.
Afghan onion imports go up
With onion prices hovering between Rs 100 to Rs 110 per kilogram, import of the bulb from Afghanistan has soared to 15 trucks per day. Each truck carrying around 30 metric tonnes (600 bags of 50 kg) are being supplied every day from the wholesale market at Kabul to traders in Delhi. “Afghani onions are not high quality as compared to the crop grown in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra but the demand has forced supplies,” traders said. Traders are paying between `35 to `50 per kg of import. Former chairman of CII Rajdeep Uppal said, “Afghani onions have been imported since last month and is exempted from customs duty. One has to only pay for transportation, loading, unloading and other sundry charges.’’ In a bid to deter dealers from hoarding and check prices, the Haryana and Punjab Governments have imposed stock limits on wholesalers up to 500 quintals and 100 quintals per retailer. Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Administration has written to the Centre to direct the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation to ensure an adequate supply of onions for the city.