Onion prices in India, farmers protest- Everything to know about the recurring conflict

Maharashtra farmers had taken out a foot march from Nashik to Mumbai in protest over onion prices. On Saturday one 58 year old farmer who had attended the foot march died at Shahapur police station in Thane district, informed the All India Kisan Sabha state general secretary Ajit Nawale.

The Maharashtra farmers announced on Saturday that they have called off the march following assurance from the state government and the centre. «The famers have started to return from Shahapur to their respective places,» they said.

Farmers’ leader JP Gavit Gavit said, «We have decided after government assurance about considering our demands in the State Assembly and ensure its implementation in our talukas and villages.»

Why were farmers protesting in Maharashtra?

Thousands of farmers in Maharashtra were protesting after onion prices suddenly crashed over the past few weeks. Farmers had burnt their crops in desperation after sending an invitation to the Maharashtra chief Minister Eknath Shinde; others had posted parcels of onions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bid to draw attention.

In order to draw the attention of the government to a 17-point charter demand, thousands of farmers had begun a march from Dindori in Maharashtra’s Nashik district on Sunday last and will cover 200 kms to reach Mumbai.

This year farmers have informed that they received only 200-400 rupees per 100kg of onions in the wholesale market.

Is this recurring?

Demand for proper pricing for onion in India is a rather annual event.  India is the second largest producer of onions in the world, preceded by China. The country produces around 24 million tonnes of onions annually. Maharashtra accounts for more than half of this. 

About 10-15% of the countrywide produce is exported to other countries.

Why is there conflict regarding onion prices in India?

Onion form a staple part of the Indian diet and cuisines all over the world. Onions are also highly perishable, meaning it cannot be stored for too long. 

Now, onions have often been game changers and makers for indian political scenario. While a glut in supply can make prices fall, plunging thousands of farmers into crisis, a shortage can send prices soaring, sparking consumer anger that has even brought down governments in the past.

Why was demand for onion faltering?

Officials told BBC that demand for Onion has been faltering from northern states as, «Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan are also harvesting onions».

What the farmers demanded?

The demands include Minimum Support Price (MSP) for onions, the appropriate price for agricultural produce, electricity bill waiver for farmers, speedy compensation for crop losses due to the unseasonal rains, and forest land rights.

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