As Onion Prices Slump in the State, Farmers March From Nashik to Mumbai

The farmers will cover a distance of more than 200 km in their long march – a third such march in the last 5 years.

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As Onion Prices Slump in the State, Farmers March From Nashik to Mumbai
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Amid the major slump in onion prices in Maharashtra, thousands of farmers have been walking towards Mumbai from Nashik for the last few days demanding a subsidy of ₹600 per quintal to cover their losses.

The farmers will cover a distance of more than 200 kilometre on foot in their long march – a third such in the last five years. The march began in Nashik's Dindori on Monday, 13 March, and will continue through Thane to reach Mumbai in a few days. Though the majority of the farmers hail from Nashik, hundreds of other farmers from the rest of Maharashtra joined the march as it progressed towards Mumbai.

Farmers on their way to Mumbai.

(Photo: By arrangement)

The farmers, led by Communist Party of India (Marxist)-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), have put forward a charter of 17 demands, including fair prices for agricultural produce, establishment of a body to inspect milk meters and weighing forks used by dairies, individual land pattas to Adivasis on forestland, and ownership titles to families that have built houses on gairan/gaothan land. They have also extended their support to the Maharashtra government employees who are currently on strike demanding restoration of the Old Pension Scheme.


Two ministers in the Maharashtra government, Dada Bhuse and Atul Save, met farmers' representatives on Wednesday. Another meeting is going to be held on Thursday between the AIKS delegation and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and other concerned officials.

The farmers have said that if the state government accepts all their demands, they will return to their villages; else they will continue walking towards the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Shinde Announces ₹300 Subsidy for Onions, Farmers Say Not Enough

Maharashtra is the leading producer of onion in the country. As the prices took a hit in the last few days, Shinde, on Monday, announced a subsidy of ₹300 per quintal in the ongoing budget session to quell the anger of the farmers.

However, AIKS general secretary for Maharashtra, Ajit Navale, told mediapersons that ₹300 was not enough as it will not even cover the input cost. He demanded that onion growers must be given minimum ₹600 per quintal and that too retrospectively so that the farmers who have already sold their produce do not suffer.

The onion prices plummeted after the late kharif crop hit the market earlier than expected. It is feared that the prices will again crash once the onions from the rabi season enter the markets. The farmers' representatives are demanding that the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) should procure as much onion from the farmers as possible at the rate of ₹2,000 per quintal.

Adivasis Take the Lead

A majority of the marchers belong to the Adivasi communities. They include not just farmers but also farm workers and daily wage labourers. The Adivasi-dominated areas of Nashik and the neighbouring Palghar are considered strongholds of the CPI(M).


Adivasi leader Jiva Gavit, who is 77 years old, has served as CPI(M) MLA for seven times from his Kalwan constituency in Nashik (he had lost the 2019 assembly elections). He was at the forefront of the long marches in 2018 and 2019 and is leading the current march too.

Vinod Nikole, another Adivasi leader and the current CPI(M) MLA from Dahanu in Palghar district, said that hundreds of people from his district have joined the march. More are expected to join as the march enters Thane district and then Mumbai. "We want the government to accept all our demands," he told The Quint.

Nitesh Mhase, who hails from the Kudus village in Palghar's Wada taluka, is a member of the CPI(M) and the AIKS. He told The Quint, "Along with the AIKS, many other organisations like Democratic Youth Federation of India, Students' Federation of India and All India Democratic Women's Association too have joined the march." Mhase is planning to join the march once it enters Mumbai.

His father, Jagan Mhase, who has been a member of the CPI(M) for the last three decades, has already joined the march. A video of him singing a protest song was shared by a prominent Marathi news channel on their YouTube channel.

Jagan Mhase (in red T-shirt) has been working for the CPI(M) for the past 30 years. 

(Photo: By arrangement)

The Mhases and a few other Adivasi families reside on forestland. "Our hamlet is on forest land. All of our houses are here. Some of us also do farming here. But we have been given a combined patta for these 8-10 plots. Our demand is that we should be given individual pattas for the land that is in our possession," Nitesh told The Quint.

Nitesh says that there are thousands of such families in Maharashtra residing on or tilling forest land, whose land ownership should be regularised. However, he insists that land patta is just one of the demands and their fight is for all the demands on the AIKS charter.

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