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Exclusive | Maharashtra: Pop-up onion market in Lasalgaon upsets cart

Updated on: 19 May,2024 06:53 AM IST  |  Nashik
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

Traders and farmers deal with each other directly, raking in profit sans receipts

Exclusive | Maharashtra: Pop-up onion market in Lasalgaon upsets cart

With no paperwork, traders don’t have to pay GST. Pic/Ashish Raje

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Exclusive | Maharashtra: Pop-up onion market in Lasalgaon upsets cart

Driven to desperation by the ban on export of onions, a parallel private market has popped up in Lasalgaon, Nashik, where farmers and traders deal directly with each other bypassing official procedures. Lasalgaon’s wholesale APMC market decides the rate of the root vegetable across the country, and it’s from here that the kitchen staple makes its way to other cities in India, and abroad. The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) regulates agricultural produce, and comes under State jurisdiction.

“The official market gathers the stock in the presence of farmers in the morning,” said onion farmer Abhishek Gangurde. “The produce is tested, assessed, and rates are decided. The entire process is documented and registered. But due to the ongoing labour issue, traders and farmers have been meeting in an open space right behind the market. The farmers get a good rate [higher than the official APMC one], but this is a dangerous trend as nothing is on paper. It breeds a dual problem: No GST or taxes are paid, and the farmer ends up with money that can’t be accounted for. APMC provides a support system to farmers.” The labour issue was over who would bear the charges of the Mathadi board for weighing and labour: Traders or farmers?  It led to a 14-day suspension of daily auction, that broke on Friday.

“The process is faster,” one farmer told mid-day, “but the receipts are kachcha; we have to take a photo of them. It’s scary, but we have to sell off the yield like this.” APMC is aware of the parallel market, but helpless to stop it. “We cannot tell farmers to not go there as they have been suffering due to the export ban,” said an official. “They need to earn, and some traders are exploiting this situation.” Another official said: “The labour issue is ongoing in court, and restrictions have caused losses for everyone. This has led to such markets popping up. But the trend could prove a threat to the APMC in the long-term.”

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