With onion prices soaring again, the Centre on Tuesday asked states to come down heavily on hoarders, while announcing a slew of measures to thwart the upward trend.
The government also decided to de-list fruit and vegetables from the Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) Act to allow direct sale by farmers, and fixed a Minimum Export Price (MEP) of $300 per tonne on onions.
“States where the tendency of hoarding in anticipation of a weak monsoon is on the rise have been asked to crack down on hoarders,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after an emergency meeting with Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
India produces around 18 million tonnes of onions a year, of which roughly 15 lakh tonnes are exported. The current rise in prices of onion, potato and other products has been in anticipation of a sub-normal monsoon, in addition to the violence in Iraq and rising oil prices.
To check the price movement in cereals, the government is expected to immediately release about 50 lakh tonnes of rice in the open market. Moreover, state governments will be given a line of credit to import pulses and edible oil directly if the need arises.
The finance minister also said that a decision on Minimum Export Price for potato would be announced by the Commerce Ministry to curb its exports and bring down domestic prices.
The new government, which has placed inflation control as its foremost priority, is currently facing the highest-ever price rise in essential commodities, including food, since December.