Govt to ensure no price hike of onions due to lockdown: Agri Minister

    11-Apr-2020   
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Union government is taking all necessary steps so that the onion can reach  nearby Mandis and ensure sale of the same. The centre is working in close coordination of all onion producing states. 
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New Delhi: The rising number of COVID19 cases in Maharashtra could impact supply of onion, fruits and other vegetables across the country.
 
A major marketing hiccup created in Maharashtra due to "labour shortage" during the ongoing lockdown could impact onion farmers but the Modi government is committed to ensure that the price of the essential ingredient does not go up.
 
“Pyaz ki kimatey na barey is par hamare nigahe hae (We are constantly keeping an eye to ensure that the price of onion does not go up),” Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told a select group of journalists via a video conference here on Friday. The statement from the Union Minister came a day after he held video conference with state Agriculture Ministers.
 
Incidentally, large wholesale markets of vegetables, fruits, onion and potato run by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi near Mumbai would remain closed from April 11 till further orders.
Mumbai APMC secretary Anil Chavan, however, said the farmers would be at liberty to sell their produce to traders in Mumbai so that there is no shortage of supply.
 
Meanwhile, Union Agriculture minister said that following marketing hiccups in the western state due to lockdown, the onion sector would be impacted. “But we are taking necessary steps so that the onion can reach the nearby Mandis and can ensure the sale of the same,” he said. The centre is in fact working on this front in close coordination of all onion producing states, he said.
 
Answering questions on the "labour shortage" in agri farms and the fact that number of migrant workers are still stranded on route to their homes, the Union Minister said the Modi government is also working with the states so that these workers do not face problems and more importantly they are "guarded" against the unseen virus. However, he said, the top priority now is to ensure that the migrant workers too are safe and “well protected” from Coronavirus.
 
"First priority is life...their life is precious," the Agriculture Minister said.
 
“I would also like to add that under SDRF scheme, states are provided with financial support from the centre every year. Short level catastrophe is handled under SDRF modus operandi. SDRF funds are already with states and so now we have said that this money can be also used to help the migrant workers,” Mr Tomar said adding, “an additional amount of Rs 11,000 crore extra has been provided to the states from the centre after coronavirus".
 
Onion is an essential part of the diet of lakhs of Indians across the country and also in northeastern states. Lasangaon market in Maharashtra, which does maximum business with onion, could not ensure 'marketing' of the product even as a huge quantity reached the Mandi. Lasangao is Asia's biggest onion market.
 
According to market sources, most migrant men and women who unload, load and grade onions for 'marketing' missed the entire business this year as a large number of them either stayed indoors or had left for their respective hometowns in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
 
During a video conference with state Agriculture Ministers on Thursday, the Union Minister informed that the Kharif National Conference will be held on April 16 through Video Conferencing to firm up the field preparations for ensuing Kharif season and urged the states to make advance preparations for all the logistics.
 
Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme during the lockdown period, about 7.92 crore farmer families have been benefitted and an amount of Rs. 15,841 crore has been released so far.