Onion prices to bring more tears

Onion prices to bring more tears

The ‘political vegetable’ is haunting India again. With its price crossing Rs 5,000 a quintal at Lasalgaon in Nashik district of Maharashtra, one of the biggest producing regions in the country, onion looks to make the countrymen and even the government shed more tears.

As per the current projection and assessment, retail prices of onion are not going to ease in September and October, either.

At retail market across Maharashtra, onion prices are hovering between Rs 60 and Rs 70 per kg - and there are chances that it may touch between Rs 90 and Rs 100.

At Lasalgaon, Asia's No. 1 onion market, where prices showed a northward movement since a fortnight, touched and crossed Rs 5,000 per quintal (Rs 50 per kg) and even reached Rs 5,500 per quintal.

"The onion prices have crossed Rs 5,000 per quintal. The average on Thursday was around Rs 5,200 kg, but it also touched Rs 5,500 per kg, during one of the auctions," Nanasaheb Patil,  a member of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), told Deccan Herald over phone from Lasalgaon.

"Currently, the onion prices at Lasalgaon are over Rs 5,000 per quintal and going by the current projections and calculations, it would go up further," Changdeorao Holkar, NAFED’s former vice-president said.


Price rise in Karnataka
The situation in Maharashtra has influenced neighbouring Karnataka also.Onion at the APMC in Hubballi is being procured at a maximum rate of close to Rs 5,000 per quintal, and the onion rate in the retail market is currently Rs 56 per kg.

On Thursday, 1,480 quintals of local-variety onion were  procured at a minimum rate of Rs 1,000 and maximum of Rs 4,600. Over 900 quintals of Telgi variety, which comes from irrigated areas in and around Vijayapur in the state, was procured at minimum Rs 1,800 and maximum Rs 4,800. The Pune variety of onion has not come from Maharashtra region, either.

On Wednesday, only 220 quintals of Pune onion had come to the market.
 Though a large quantity of onion is procured at model price, the onion rate in the retail market is higher than the maximum price being quoted in the APMC yard.
Onion traders said shortage in supply of onion from Maharashtra has increased the prices.

A bit easy for Mumbai
"In Mumbai, people are a bit comfortable as the retail prices are between Rs 60 and Rs 65. Elsewhere, it is more and in some places, it has touched Rs 70," said Sanjay Pingle, a trader at the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, said.

National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation officials, too, said that onion prices are rising, making things uncomfortable for farmers and consumers.

Reason of crisis
Asked about the reason, Patil said: "It’s a chain....the problem is compounding... in Maharashtra, the production was below normal because of various reasons like insufficient rains and drought."

Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat contribute over two thirds of India’s onion production, with Maharashtra alone accounting for about 30% , according to a study of Assocham.

The monthly consumption of onions in India ranges from 8 lakh  million tonnes (MT) to 12 lakh MT depending on season and prices.
 

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