Onion prices to shoot up further; govt hikes MEP

Onion prices to shoot up further; govt hikes MEP

Onion prices will shoot up further in the next fortnight because of a decline in their arrivals, feel traders of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee, Lasalgaon, one of the biggest onion-trading centres of the world, in Maharashtra.

The prices have gone up by as high as 25-30 per cent in a week’s time. Last Monday, the wholesale rate at Lasalgaon was Rs 4,300 per quintal. On Saturday, it was auctioned at Rs 5,700 a quintal, Rs 200 more than on Friday.

The rising prices in Lasalgaon have affected the retail market in the state and elsewhere in the country. As per the database of National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, 2,000 quintals of onions arrived at the Lasalgaon market and the modal price was Rs 5,700 per quintal on Saturday. While the minimum quote was Rs 3,100, the maximum quote was Rs 6,292 per quintal.

In the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, onions were selling at Rs 70-75 per kg in the retail market. There were also incidents of panic buying.

Prices of onions have been rising on account of a decline in total production, which stood at 189.23 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 as against 194.02 lakh tonnes in 2013-14—a decrease of 4.79 lakh tonnes, said government sources.The shortfall has primarily been on account of adverse weather conditions, including unseasonal rain, which has impacted both the standing and harvested crop at major producing centres.

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are the top onion-producing states of the country. This season, Maharashtra, the biggest producer, is facing insufficient rain. The Nashik district, which accounts for the maximum production in the state, faced unseasonal rain and hailstorms.

Meanwhile, the Centre on Saturday hiked the minimum export price (MEP) of onions by USD 275 per tonne to boost domestic supply and control the spiralling retail prices. The onion MEP was raised to USD 700 per tonne from USD 425.

“To increase availability in domestic market, it has been decided to raise minimum export price of onions further to USD 700 per tonne,” said the consumer affairs ministry in a statement. The government is keeping a close watch on onion prices and has floated a tender for import of 10,000 tonnes, which will be opened on August 27, it added.

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