Onion acreage shrinks in Karnataka, brings tears in north

Onion acreage shrinks in Karnataka, brings tears in north

Onion acreage shrinks in Karnataka, brings tears in north

With onions retailing at Rs 80 per kg in the national capital, Minister for Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said controlling price rise was not in his hands.

"I have told you the ground situation. It is not in my hands," Paswan told reporters when asked about a time-frame for controlling the price rise.

The minister was interacting with the media after chairing an inter-ministerial meeting on rising prices.

Paswan said the production of onions was expected to be low on account of the lower acreage of the crop at 1.9 lakh hectares in 2017-18 as against 2.65 lakh hectares last year.

He said key onion producing states – Karnataka and Maharashtra – have reported lower sowing.

"While farmers in Karnataka sowed onions on 1 lakh hectares last year, this season the acreage has shrunk to 79,000 hectares," Paswan said.

Farmers in Maharashtra who grew onions on 53,000 hectares last year have sown the crop on 36,000 hectares this year.

The minister attributed the decline in cultivation to the crash in onion prices earlier this year and the unseasonal rain towards the end of monsoon season.

Paswan said he has asked Nafed to procure 10,000 tonnes of onions directly from the states for sale in the national capital and other cities.

The Centre had clamped down on onion exports by levying a hefty $ 850 as minimum export price and also written to state governments to procure onions and supply to central agencies.

Paswan said onion was also being imported but it would take at least two months for it to reach the markets.

"In Nashik, onion is still being sold at Rs 32 per kg. If you add the transport cost, even then it should not be more than Rs 40 per kg. In Rajasthan's Alwar its still being sold at Rs 28 to Rs 30 a kg, in Indore it is Rs 30 per kg and in Solapur, it is Rs 25," Paswan said.

The government has pinned its hope on the arrival of the Kharif crops from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for prices to cool down.

"We expect the late Kharif crop to hit the markets in a week or two for the prices to decline," Paswan said.