NASHIK: Onion traders on Wednesday met the district collector and sought an increase in the number of railway rakes to transport the perishable crop.
The traders are under pressure this year in the wake of a bumper crop. Currently, 13 rakes of onion (1,800 tonnes a rake) is reaching market because of the bumper crop. This is more than double last year’s figure. “The railways is failing to provide two rakes a day in February even as at least four are needed to transport the crop,” onion merchant Sohanlal Bhandari said.
“Every day, around 2 lakh quintal of onions reach the market. If we consider 40% of the amount are carried by railways, it means there should be at least four rakes a day. In February, the railways provided us 29 rakes,” he said.
“The problem is that we are not being able to send onions out of Nashik now. As a result, we will not be able to procure it as well. And all this are leading to the fall in onion prices. Goods movement is a must and the railways should arrange for more rakes,” said one of the onion merchants who met the collector.
The railways had supplied about 60 rakes during the same time last year, when the production of the onion was half than what it is this year.” However, now the production is more, the Railways are unwilling to spare more rakes, they said, adding that if Bhusawal Division of Central Railway is not able to cater to the burgeoning demand, the officials should approach adjoining Nanded Division of South Central Railway and ensure if additional rakes can be augmented and supplied”.
If the railways does not set things right, we will be under pressure to discontinue the intake of produce. This will lead to problems of the farmers,” another merchant, Keshav Patil, said.
The merchant added that the traders had on January 7 placed the demand of 250 rakes for February to push out the crop from the district.
Senior railway officials present at the meeting expressed their inability to provide more rakes, given the lack of infrastructure and congestion of trains.
“There is heavy congestion of trains in Fatuha (Fatwa) junction in Bihar, which is the favoured destination for the traders here. The turnaround time for the rakes has increased from three to eight days, and even more. The railways is unable to ply more rakes as picking up the perishable crop and delivering those 10 days later is not going to help,” a senior railway official said.
He suggested the traders instead pack their goods for Sitpur, Ranipatra, Dankuni and Gaur Malda that could help find some solution.
“We have suggested them a few other destinations. We will be able to help them if the solution works out,” the officer said after the meeting with the traders.