Centre considering Maha CM demand for lifting onion export ban

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New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) Centre is considering "at thehighest level" request from Maharashtra Chief MinisterPrithviraj Chavan to completely lift the export ban on onionwhich has seen crash in prices, triggering farmers'' protest.

"The Government is giving its attention at the highestlevel, to what has been said by the Maharashtra Chief Ministerand Union Agriculture Minister (Sharad Pawar)," Commerce andIndustry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here.

Facing protests from growers in Nashik, Chavan spoke toSharma last night seeking reversal of the Centre''s decision toban onion exports.

Pawar, member of the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM)on Food has also sought lifting the ban and restrictions onexport of onion and sugar, respectively.

Sharma said eGoM would review the matter. The ministers''panel, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has allowedtwo varieties of onion for exports.

Onion prices, which had touched Rs 85 per kg at theretail level (Rs 60-70 per kg in wholesale), have fallen to aslow as Rs 4-5 a kg in the mandis of Maharashtra. It is nowselling at Rs 20-25 a kg in retail.

"Last night, Maharashtra Chief Minister PrithivrajChauhan did speak to me and subsequently written to us...Iimmediately discussed it with Finance Minister(PranabMukherjee), who is the chairman of the eGoM (on Food)," Sharmasaid.

On Wednesday, hundreds of farmers in Nashik took to thestreets and blocked the busy Mumbai-Agra highway to protestagainst the fall in onion prices after ban on exports.

However, Sharma said, there are many steps to helpfarmers. "There are state and national federations which canstep in to purchase at a better price so that farmers do notsuffer,"he said.

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