Onions have left customers teary-eyed as prices of the staple continue to soar in the national capital.
The onion prices registered yet another hike on Friday. The prices of the staple were four times higher as compared to last year. On Nov 29, 2018, the wholesale prices of onion in Delhi's Azadpur Mandi were between ₹2.5/kg-16/kg. Whereas, it traded between ₹20-62.5 per kg on Friday.
Traders said that onion prices are rising due to higher consumption and shorter supply.
"The arrival of onions in Azadpur Mandi was 1,045.6 tonnes on Friday, while the daily consumption of onions in Delhi is around 2,000 tonnes," said traders.
The central government has decided to import 1.2 lakh tonnes of onions to improve the domestic supply and control prices.
Rajendra Sharma, President, Onion Merchant Association and a trader at Azadpur Mandi said that the average daily consumption of onions across the country is around 50,000-60,000. So, the import of 1.2 lakh tonnes of onions is equivalent to a two-day consumption.
"The increase in the onion prices is natural as there is insufficient supply in Delhi," he added.
Agriculture expert Vijay Sardana said that due to improper onion storage in the country, the stock of the previous season was wasted. While the new crop has been destroyed due to the weather..
"At present, there is a need to import about 10 lakh tonnes of onions. However, it's impractical as onions in such a large quantity will not be available abroad," Sardana said.
The government is trying to procure onions from Egypt, Turkey, Holland and other countries.
State-owned MMTC has also signed contracts with Egypt for onion imports and an onion consignment of 6,090 tonnes will be available in the country next month
Retail onion prices remained high across the major cities of the country as the average selling price ruled at ₹70 per kg on Thursday while the maximum rate of ₹110 per kg was recorded in Panaji, according to official data.
The lowest price of ₹38 per kg of the bulb was reported from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, the Consumer Affairs Ministry data showed.
Among the four metros, onion is being sold at ₹76 per kg in the national capital, Rs 92 in Mumbai, ₹100 per kg in Kolkata and Rs 80 per kg in Chennai.
The ministry monitors prices of 22 essential commodities (rice, wheat, atta, gram dal, tur (arhar) dal, urad dal , moong dal, masur dal, sugar, gur, groundnut oil, mustard oil, vanaspati, sunflower oil, soya oil, palm oil, tea, milk, potato, onion, tomato and salt) based on data collected from 109 market centres spread across the country.
Interestingly, a pricey onion seems to be catching the attention of thieves as an employee of a vegetable vendor in Surat said that someone stole 250 kg of the bulb worth ₹25,000 from their shop in the early hours of the day.
On Wednesday, the government extended prohibitions on traders from the stocking of edible bulb across the country for an indefinite period.
The stock holding limit was imposed in September. At present, retailers can stock onion only up to 100 quintals and wholesale traders are allowed to keep up to 500 quintals.
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday had asserted that the government was making maximum efforts to control prices.
Besides stock holding limit, he said, the Centre has banned exports of onion and importing 1.2 lakh tonnes to control prices.
State-owned MMTC has informed that the first shipment of onions from Egypt would arrive in the second week of December. The public sector trading firm has contracted imports of 6,090 tonnes of onions.
Expressing concern over the price rise, Paswan had said the situation is being closely monitored by a team of five Union ministers chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah. Finance minister, agriculture minister and road transport minister are also members of the group of ministers.
The group of ministers has already held one meeting and another one will be held soon, he said.
On November 19, Paswan had said onion production in Kharif and late-Kharif seasons of 2019-20 is estimated to fall 26 per cent to 5.2 million tonnes due to a delayed monsoon and then excessive rains in key growing areas.
The buffer stock of 57,000 tonnes of onions has been liquidated and therefore the Centre decided to import. PTI MJH MJH MR