Onions leave consumer teary-eyed

Steep hike

From just Rs 5-12 a couple of weeks ago, the multi-layered vegetable is selling at Rs 45 to Rs 52 in markets here.

Compare that to the demonstration staged by farmers here just a few days ago demanding Rs 1,400 minimum support price per quintal of onion, citing low prices due to poor demand. The situation has transformed radically with the wholesale prices ruling at Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000 per quintal now.

Traders blame the phenomenonal prices on short supply due to poor yield caused by inclement weather and unseasonal rain. Although they are making a beeline to APMC yards to buy onions, the supply is low and the quality is poor. Large and well-dried onions of good quality are hardly available even at Rs 45 to 50 per kg .

The unseasonal rain has destroyed 70 per cent of the crop in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat and Rajasthan, the leading producers of the onion in the country. The prices of the onions in these states has already gone up to Rs 55 to Rs 70 per kg. The situation is worse in north-eastern India where the prices have touched Rs 80 a kg in states like Assam and  Mizoram. The prices are further set to move northward, says wholesale dealer Dawalsaab Shibarghatti.

The unseasonal rains, however, has acted as silver lining for the farmers of the State. The crops destroyed due to rains in northwestern states has created huge demand for the onions from the State. Even though there are a few patches of onion cultivation in Nasik, Pune and Alwar, the onions from Karnataka are in great demand in the markets of these cities.

The tonnes of onions which arrive at  Bangalore and Hubli markets are not only transported to Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu but also to northern and north eastern states leading to huge demand.

Crop cultivation

This year, onion crop was sown in 2.25  lakh hectares of the State and production of 1,200 lakh tonnes of onions was expected.

However, due to unseasonal rains, the production drastically reduced to 300 lakh tonnes. Though the prices of onions have gone up Rs 6,000 per quintal it is still hard to find good quality onions, said Pune-based exporter Nitin Malvekar.

“Nearly, 4 -5 kg of onions are rotten in a bag containing 45 kg of onions. Even so, we are forced to buy the produce as there is no option,” said Hemanth, another trader. The onion crop sown in West Bengal can be harvested only in the last week of January and it would be March by the time it reaches markets. Till then, the prices of onions will remain high, he added.

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