Nafed procures 25,000 tonnes of onion so far to create buffer stock

NEW DELHI: Nafed on Sunday said it has procured 25,000 tonnes of onion so far from farmer producer organisations (FPOs), cooperatives and direct purchase centres at the prevailing rates for creating a buffer stock on behalf of the government.
Last year, the Nafed had purchased a total of 57,000 tonnes of onion from the 2018-19 rabi (winter) crop. The target this time is to buy 1 lakh tonnes of key kitchen staple from the major producing states, it said.
“This initiative will have dual benefit of stabilising the domestic prices of onion in the COVID-19 time as well and create an all-time high buffer stocking of 1 lakh tonne which may be utilised for the lean months,” National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) said in a statement.
It has already purchased 25,000 tonnes at the prevailing rates. Onion is being purchased from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat from FPOs, cooperatives as well as direct purchase centres.
Currently, the onion prices for fair average quality are ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,400 per quintal, depending on the location. The retail prices in major cities at present are ruling in the range of Rs 20 to Rs 30 per kg. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nafed said regular virtual review meetings are being held with FPOs, member cooperative societies and branches to monitor the progress of procurement, as ground challenges remain due to the deadly disease.
At some places, pre-monsoon showers are affecting the pace of procurement.
This season, the services of technical experts for better maintenance of the stock are also being taken in an attempt to cut into the storage losses, it said. Further, a pilot is being conducted for storage of onion after irradiation in Madhya Pradesh to evaluate the gain on account of shelf life and quality keeping.
“It is hoped that this initiative of Nafed will help both the onion growers as well the consumers,” it added.
About onion storage, Nafed said the cooperative this year has added its own operational storage capacity for onions in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh by 30,000 tonne, with the support of state governments.
It is in the process of creating more storage space on cluster models at farm gates in the onion growing regions since 2018, it said, adding that this initiative has enabled the Federation to enhance the procurement target, providing market support to the onion growers.
Meanwhile, Nafed said it has also approached the state governments to send their requirements of lean months in advance.
This will facilitate timely evacuation of the stored onion in a planned manner to have a salutary effect on the retail prices, which tend to go up in the period late August to November.
Further, this will help in cutting the storage losses,as long duration of storage entails higher storage loss to the extent of 35 per cent, which gets compounded due to adverse weather conditions, as reported last year, it said.
Besides onion, Nafed is procuring pulses for buffer stock.

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