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Posted at: Jan 12, 2019, 6:31 PM; last updated: Jan 12, 2019, 6:31 PM (IST)

Food prices to surge as fewer farmers sow winter crop

Food prices to surge as fewer farmers sow winter crop
Output of onions is expected to be badly affected as only around 90,000 hectares of farm land in the onion belt around Nashik and Marathwada have been brought under the crop this year. File photo

Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service
Mumbai, January 12

Food prices are set to surge later this summer as farmers reeling under falling prices of agricultural produce and poor rainfall have reduced sowing the winter crop, according to officials from the agricultural department.

According to information available from the state agriculture department, only around half the area under the rabi crop has been sown this year. Sowing for the winter crop is almost complete in Maharashtra.

"Unlike last year when 56.9 lakh hectares were brought under the rabi crop, sowing has been carried out only in around 30 lakh hectares so far," an official from the agriculture department said.

Apart from onions, vegetables and pulses like toor dal are grown as part of the rabi crop in Maharashtra.

Output of onions is expected to be badly affected as only around 90,000 hectares of farm land in the onion belt around Nashik and Marathwada have been brought under the crop this year. Usually, 2.55 lakh hectares of farmland are brought under the onion crop. In the Nashik area alone only around 18,000 hectares as opposed to 80,000 hectares have been brought under the onion crop.

Onion farmers were the worst hit with prices falling to less than one rupee per kilogramme in the wholesale markets recently. "Apart from severe losses, onion farmers also have to grapple with lack of water as the rainfall was poor this year," says Annasaheb Donge, a wholesale dealer of onions at the Lasalgaon market near Nashik.

Traders feel that onion prices would go through the roof and stay high till the kharif crop comes in next year. Onions from the Rabi crop have a longer shelf-life and can be stored till October-November.

Onion prices are known to swing wildly. From a low of less than a rupee per kilogramme during a glut, prices have shot up to Rs 70-80 during in recent years when output had crashed.

Reports from the Nashik belt, which supplies much of the vegetables to Mumbai, Pune and Nashik cities, indicate that acreage under vegetables have also reduced due to poor rainfall this year.

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