NAFED’s record onion procurement to focus on quality, cutting losses

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Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune | Published: June 14, 2020 10:46:47 pm

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation, nafed, nafed onion procurement, nafed onion procurement operations, onion procurement, indian express news NAFED has also started approaching state governments to send in their requirements for the lean months well in advance. (Representational)

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED)’s onion procurement operations this season aims to reduce storage and handling losses. The apex cooperative marketing agency has been given a procurement target of 1 lakh tonnes (lt) to be completed in the next two months. This would be the largest ever procurement of onions carried out by NAFED.

A bumper crop of onion in major growing states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat has seen wholesale prices of the bulb see sharp corrections in the last few months. The lockdown and closure of hotels and institutional buy have resulted in a dip in demand also. NAFED’s market intervention is aimed at bolstering the prices and create a buffer stock of onion, which will be offloaded in the lean season. Procurement operations, which started a fortnight or so back, have seen procurement of around 25,000 tonnes till date.

Yogesh Thorat, managing director of MahaFPC — the umbrella body of FPCs in the state — said they have been given a target of 40,000 tonnes in the state. “This year we are focusing on minimising losses at all levels. Last season around 35 per cent of the procured onions was lost in storage nationally,” he said.

NAFED this year has added to its own operational storage capacity for onions in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh by 30,000 MT, with the active support of the state governments. It is in the process of creating more storage space on cluster model at the farm gate in the onion growing regions.

Thorat said they are working on three verticals to minimise losses. “Right from the time onion is brought to the storage structures till the time they are offloaded quality control will be maintained,” he said. The participating FPCs have been advised to ensure proper sorting and grading of onions before they are stored in on-field moisture-proof and dust-proof structures called kanda chawls. Previously such activities were mostly carried out at the farm gate level.

Another quality check is laying stress on the design and maintenance of the chawls. Thorat said they have stressed on proper ventilation of the structures so that chances of moisture ingress is less. “Periodic quality checks would be undertaken at the storage points,” he said. Similarly, the FPCs will undertake what is called ‘turning’ at the structures. This would involve checking for onions that have gone bad and sort them out of the lot.

NAFED has also started approaching state governments to send in their requirements for the lean months well in advance.

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