Global Economy

Export ban lifted before voting in Maharashtra onion belt

Just before the polling in upcoming three phases in the onion belt of Maharashtra, the central government on Saturday announced to lift the ban on onion export imposed in December last year.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Saturday issued a notification permitting the export of onions with the Minimum Export Price (MEP) to $550 per tonne and 40% export duty.

A ban on export was hurting the onion farmers in the Western Maharashtra and Marathwada, the area known as the onion belt of the country. These two regions alone produce 40% of the overall onion production of the country.

As ET travelled through parts of Western Maharashtra, farmers were unhappy over the export ban decision and in some parts there were protests by farmers since January this year.

The anger was much more after the relaxation given by the government on April 25 to export 2,000 tonnes of white onion, produced in Gujarat. Gujarat is the large producer of white onions which is in great demand overseas. Bhavnagar and Amreli are the top onion producing districts of Gujarat and polling is also scheduled on these two Lok Sabha seats in the third phase.

Maharashtra produces red onions and farmers were protesting to give similar relaxation for them as was given for Gujarat.”It is a welcome step but it has come too late in the day. Firstly there should not have been an export ban. Also if an export ban has to be lifted then it should be for all states not just one state,” Abhishek Salunkhe an onion farmer from Pimpri Sayyad village in Nashik, told ET.Nashik is the hub of onion farmers in Maharashtra. Lasalgaon, the biggest onion mandi of the country falls under Nashik Lok Sabha. For the past two elections, Shiv Sena leader Hemant Godse has been winning from the Nashik Lok Sabha seat as part of NDA.

Of the eight seats of Marathwada, the BJP won four seats, Shiv Sena won three and one seat Aurangabad was won by AIMIM in 2019. With the region affected by Maratha reservations agitations, a protest by onion farmers could impact the electoral performance of the NDA.

By lifting the export ban, the government has tried to give relief to the farmers. The impact of the decision will only be visible once the voting takes place in upcoming three phases.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.