Onion prices have soared to Rs 130 a kilo in the wholesale market in Lasalgaon, Maharashtra today. The earlier record two years ago was Rs 75 per kilogram, recall onion traders. The slow arrival of the fresh crop has impacted the supply of the onions in the wholesale market. Consequently, prices are soaring to around Rs 100-110 a kg in the wholesale markets in Mumbai, too. Old onions of the cheap quality that is left (crop was out in March) is fetching Rs 100-Rs 110 per kilo while the new onion prices are unchanged between Rs 80-Rs 100 a kilo, said Rajendra Shelke of the Vashi onion and potato traders union.
Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale market for onions in Maharashtra, is witnessing a dip in supply of onions. From a supply in the range of 15,000-20,000 quintals daily, the mandis are now seeing an arrival of a mere 3,000 to 3,500 quintals per day, said Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC).
Unlike the unhala (sun) onions that arrive in the market February-March and has a long shelf-life of at least six months, the current crop cannot be stored beyond 10 days as the moisture content in the onion is high and it is prone to rotting process at a faster pace.
From unseasonal rains due to climatic changes, deficient rainfall leading to delayed sowing and abnormally high rainfall in September has made onions dear for the past few months.
In a bid to curb rising onion prices, the government’s latest move to revise stock holding limit of the bulb has added more tears to the farmers woes, Holkar said. Earlier, retailers were allowed to hold onion stock up to 10 tonnes and wholesalers up to 50 tonnes. Now, they can hold half of it, as per an order issued by the Consumer Affairs Ministry. The revised stock holding limit would not be applicable for imported onions though.
The onions are purchased from farmers by wholesalers and then the crop is sorted. After sorting, the onions are bought to the wholesale market to be sold. This process takes a couple of days. Wholesalers buy onions in bulk. The latest order by the government will only derail the process of buying and sorting further, Holkar said.
The government’s latest move regarding stockists is meaningless, said, Somnath Bodke, a wholesale trader at Gurukrupa Traders in Lasalgaon. “Where are the onions in excess to store? There is hardly enough here to meet the current demand,” he said.
The new onion crop will come out in January-February and until then the prices will go up, he said.
The village crop or gavran onions from Pune will arrive soon and should mitigate the current situation of shortage in onions, said Shelke.
Govt to import onions from Turkey, Afghanistan
State-owned trading firm MMTC, which is importing onion on the behalf of the Centre, has placed an order of 11,000 tonnes of edible bulb from Turkey as part of its efforts to boost domestic supply and ease soaring prices, sources said to PTI.
This is the second import order placed by the MMTC. The public sector firm is already importing 6,090 tonnes from Egypt.
Last month, the Union Cabinet approved importing 1.2 lakh tonnes of onion to improve the domestic supply and control prices that have skyrocketed to Rs 75-120 per kg across major cities now. The Centre has already banned exports and imposed stockholding limit on wholesalers and retailers for indefinite period.
According to sources, MMTC has contracted 11,000 tonnes of onion imports from Turkey and the consignments are expected in January next year. However, this will only worsen the current situation of steep price hike in onions in the country, said traders.
"The import of onions will result in a hike in price from these countries as there is a shortage of the commodity in India. Subsequently, onions will be available at a steep price in India," said Holkar of Lasalgao APMC. Bodke, a wholesale trader said the government is doing its best but there is not much that can be done than wait for the new crop that arrives in January and February. Until then, the bulb will evoke tears in customers.
--With data support from Kishor Kadam
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Updated Date: Dec 04, 2019 14:19:33 IST