Protesting against the Centre’s policy to control onion prices, onion traders in Maharashtra met State Agricultural Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Monday demanding clarity in State’s stand.

The Centre’s recent decision to bring onions and potatoes within the purview of stockholding limits under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and delist them from the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) has irked the traders and onion farmers in the State.

Speaking to The Hindu, Chandwad MLA Shirish Kotwal stated that demands of the farmers and traders were conveyed to Mr. Patil.

“If the Centre wants to control onion prices, they should also set a minimum support price,” he said.

‘Hoarding necessary’

Commenting on the Centre’s promise to crack down on hoarders, he said the practice of hoarding was a necessity with a crop like onion.

“Farmers and traders keep some crop in stock so that they can sell all year round. If the stock in storage is brought out, there will be no onions left for consumption for the next five months,” he said.

While the move has allowed farmers to sell the produce in open markets, the absence of regulation will mean that farmers will continue to be exploited, Mr C.B. Holkar, member of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) said. “How will the government ensure that farmers are getting the best price? There are no rules in place,” he said.

The group conveyed to Mr. Patil that farmers would stop selling onions and APMC markets would be closed in protest against the government’s decision that hurt their interests.