Calls go out in India to investigate role of cartels on onion prices

Even as the wholesale prices of onions across mandis in Maharashtra continue to fall, the central government has asked for a report about traders allegedly involved in market distortion. 

This comes close on the heels of the Income-Tax department raiding the office and premises of seven traders in Nashik for hoarding onions. 

On September 21, the joint secretary, ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare, wrote to the principal secretary, government of Maharashtra, asking him to look into the market distortion in case of onion. The letter, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, alludes to an unnamed media report which had suggested that five traders of Maharashtra were indulging in cartelization.

“As evident from the data uploaded by the respective APMCs (Agricultural Produce Market Committees) on Agmarknet portal, the prices during the period of fresh arrivals of onion – ie from March to May 2017 in Maharashtra – ranged between Rs 450-550 per quintal. Thereafter, the major supply of onion in the country came from the stores in Lasalgaon, Nashik,” the letter read.

This, the government feels, is a the practice of cartelisation which had a “deleterious pan-India impact”. 

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