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Onion auctions at Lasalgaon — the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb — have been called off for a week till April 25 after traders refused to participate following a rise in Covid-19 cases in the region.
Nandkumar Daga, president of Lasalgaon Onion Traders’ Association, said Lasalgaon has been reporting four-five deaths due to Covid on a daily basis. “Several traders and farmers from other regions visit Lasalgaon to participate in the auctions and it has become very difficult to control overcrowding at the auctions.
It is necessary to break this chain of rising cases since many traders and farmers have tested positive. The association has, therefore, decided not to participate in auctions from Monday till April 25,” Daga told FE.
Narendra Wadhavane, secretary-Lasalgaon, Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Nashik, said the committee officials had been forced to keep the market closed since onion and grain traders had refused to participate in auctions. At least six traders have tested positive and two market committee officials have succumbed to the virus. “There is no point in holding auctions if the traders are not present,” he said. Wadhavane said APMC officials were currently in talks with traders in an attempt to convince them to resume operations in a couple of days. Currently, only Lasalgaon APMC and Vinchur sub-market-yard are not functioning. The remaining 13 market committees in Nashik are currently operational. On Friday, modal prices of onions at Lasalgaon were Rs 755 per quintal with the maximum prices at Rs 899 per quintal and minimum prices at Rs 400 per quintal. Market arrivals were to the tune of 14,400 quintals.
Last week, the directorate of marketing had issued a circular stating that market committees in the state cannot remain closed for more than three days in a row. The Lasalgaon APMC secretary said although the directives had been issued by the government, the market committee officials had to take the current situation into account to prevent a rise in coronavirus cases. Lasalgaon Gram Panchayat has called for a week-long janata curfew to ‘break the chain’ of Covid cases.
Around eight porters and a couple of staffers at the Parner Agriculture Market Committee in Ahmednagar district have tested positive. The market committee has decided to keep auctions closed till April 30. Market committee officials at Parner said farmers feared bringing their produce to the market because of the rise in cases and, so, the auctions would remain closed till the end of the month.
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