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Onion crisis: Retail price hits Rs 100/kg in Delhi espite relief in wholesale rates

Nanda Kasabe
Retail onion prices, Onion crisis, Onion price in delhi NCR, APMC, onion wholesale prices, Lasalgaon, kharif plantation

Retail onion prices shot up to Rs 100 per kg in New Delhi on Wednesday even though the average wholesale onion price at Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) dropped to Rs 4,300 per quintal. The price in Lasalgaon, the country's largest wholesale market for the edible bulb, was Rs 5,501 per quintal on Monday.

In Vashi near Mumbai, wholesale prices dropped to Rs 4,500 per quintal on Wednesday. Rajendra Shelke, president, Kanda Batata Vyapari Sangh, Vashi, said that retail prices were in the range of Rs 70-80 per kg. The situation was a little tight on Saturday when onions were transported in 200 vehicles and wholesale prices were at Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 per quintal but the situation has eased thereafter. New stock is arriving in the market but the quality is poor because of rain damage and they are selling in the range of 10-40 per kg, he added.

On Monday, onion prices had touched Rs 5,501 per quintal after the market repopened following the weekend. Thereafter prices dropped to Rs 3,780per quintal on Tuesday and marginally rose to Rs 4,300 per quintal on Wednesday. According to APMC officials, the demand-supply gap has caused the price rise at Lasalgaon and a hike in prices is usual when the market reopens after a weekend. Significantly, the arrivals in the market have not crossed 4,500 quintals over the week. The arrivals were around 3,176 quintals on Monday, 4,029 quintals on Tuesday and 4,500 quintals on Wednesday.

Jaydutta Holkar, former chairman, Lasalgaon APMC pointed out that wholesale onion prices had dropped by Rs 1,201 per quintal within a couple of days but the retail prices had risen to Rs 100 per kg in some cities because the stock limits imposed by the government has prevented the free flow of onions across states.

"The government has imposed stock limits of 500 quintals per trader and therefore farmers also have not brought larger quantities in the market for the fear of the stock remaining unsold. The purchasing power of traders has been curbed because of the stock limits imposed by the government and therefore trade between states has also dropped therefore leading to higher prices," he said. The new onion has started arriving in the market but the quality is low because of the incessant rains. The new crop has been damaged and its arrival is likely to be delayed.

The recent unseasonal rainfall is reported to have damaged kharif onion crops on 17,500 hectare across Nashik district, a major onion growing belt in the country. Currently, the total area under onion plantation is 53,500 hectare - 20,000 hectare kharif and 23,500 hectares of late kharif. The kharif plantation usually takes place between July and August and its harvest begins by October-end.

Fumigation norms for imported onions till November 30

The agriculture ministry on Wednesday relaxed fumigation norms for imported onions up to November 30 in a bid to improve domestic supply and check prices that have skyrocketed. The fumigation provisions have been liberalised as the government has decided to facilitate private import of the key kitchen staple from Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran to boost the availability and check price rise.

"In the light of public concern over high prices of onions in the market, the Agriculture Ministry has decided to allow relaxation from the condition of fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine (PQ) Order, 2003 for onion imports up to November 30, 2019," an official statement said.

- With PTI inputs