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Hail, rain spoil bumper year for onions

Damaged crops reach APMC, traders fear price of the vegetable may shoot up despite good harvest

Onion traders in Mumbai are a worried lot. Markets in the city and its suburbs are being flooded with damaged produce that has reached the Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) in Vashi. Recent hailstones and unseasonal rains across the region are being blamed for the disaster.



Traders are particularly concerned since it may not be possible to store the produce in sheds for many months, as is normally the case, as these damaged crops will rot quickly.   
 
Traders say onions are a four-month crop and during the time when the produce was ready to be harvested this year, hailstorms occurred. Explaining the problem, Nitin Parkh an onion trader from APMC market, said, “This has been a bumper crop year but erratic weather conditions have damaged a lot of the produce.

With onion prices shooting up last year, a lot of farmers took to growing the crop and hence the bumper crop this year. But then the rains were completely unexpected.”

At the APMC market while the damaged produce is being sold anywhere between Rs 2-5 a kilo, the better quality onions are being brought by middlemen for close to Rs 13 a kg.

“The produce this year is such that it may be difficult to store the same in sheds till October. At several onion growing belts in Nashik, onions are stored in ‘chalis’  but this damaged produce won’t last long,” said Machinder Gadekar a onion trader from APMC market.

Meanwhile senior officials at APMC said since there is a bumper crop this year the price of onions may not shoot up like last year. “In June the price of the commodity may go up a bit, but then it would not hurt the common man like last year. At worst they would go up to Rs 25 per kg in the wholesale market,” said an official.

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