India’s federal government has directed the National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) to commence procurement of 40,000-50,000 tons of summer onions towards the creation of buffer stock.
According to Nanasaheb Patil, director of Nafed, the agency was given a target of procuring one 100,000 tons in January itself from Maharashtra and Gujarat, and this year, Madhya Pradesh had also expressed interest in participating the procurement process. Normally, around 50% of the target is allocated to Maharashtra since the state is strong in terms of storage facilities.
Meetings are still in progress at Nafed regarding the price since this is a very unique situation. Usually procurement was done under the Price Stabilisation Scheme, where Nafed purchases onions at the market price, he said. A clear picture is likely to emerge within the next two to three days, Patil said.
Procurement is likely to commence only after May 3 when the lockdown period ends since labour is required in large numbers when bulk purchase is done, he said.
Last year, too, the Centre had procured 57,000 tons of onions through Nafed to create a buffer stock. Earlier, the target was 50,000 tons, but Nafed had made additional procurement as per instructions from the central government. Of the total 57,000 tons procured, around 48,000 tons of onions were procured from different pockets of Maharashtra, while the remaining 9,000 tons were bought from Gujarat.
Nafed officials said that directions have been given for the procurement from Maharashtra to kept the prices of onions in check and prevent any kind of scarcity during the lockdown. Officials expect the notification to be issued in a couple of days.