Onion Merchants’ Association president Nandakumar Daga refused to comment on the raids in Nashik.
Nashik: The income-tax department on Thursday conducted searches on the premises of a few prominent onion merchants in Nashik district, even as irate onion farmers in Nampur and Chandwad towns staged road blockades due to the prevailing low prices of their product.
Farmers are unlikely to bring their onion produce to the markets from Friday, sources said.
Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) chairman Jaydatt Holkar claimed, “These were no general I-T raids where persons from all sectors are targeted. These raids were conducted only on onion merchants in Nashik district.”
Chandwad APMC chairman Dr Atmaram Kumbharde said the I-T raids affected market prices.
The Lasalgaon APMC started in the afternoon due to the raids. The auction started at Rs 1,300 per quintal but, witnessing the low rates, angry farmers refused to sell and auctions stopped. “There is likely to be an unofficial strike as merchants may not participate the auctions and farmers too will not bring their produce from Friday,” stated Mr Holkar.
Leading merchant Prakash Dayma said the I-T raid occurred in Lasal-gaon, Pimpalgaon Basw-ant, Umrana and other places. The raids at this juncture will be a loss to farmers because merchants may not purchase onions and farmers were getting good rates now, which means it is the farmer’s loss.
Hectic meetings were on between the merchants and APMC office-bearers in Lasalgaon on Thursday. Onion Merchants’ Association president Nandakumar Daga refused to comment on the raids.
Farmer Samadhan Jamdar said that the I-T raids pertained to personal finances and not to any onion trading activity so the merchants should not use this excuse to lower prices or hold farmers to ransom. In August, onion auctions had peaked to Rs 2,800 per quintal or Rs 28 per kg and there were widespread rumours of shortage. This translated the retail prices in metro cities to Rs 60 per kg putting consumer pressure on the government.
On Wednesday the average prices in Lasalgaon, Chandwad and Pimpalgaon Baswant APMCs were Rs 1,400, Rs 1,251 and Rs 1,300 per quintal respectively.