Amid concerns over rising onion prices, rabi onions are being stored across India to meet the domestic demand June onwards. The National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) has estimated that around 40 MT of the kitchen staple has been stored in different parts of the country. Major storage is being done by the producers and traders in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar, NHRDF said.
Meanwhile, Nafed has started dispatching two to three truckloads of onions (30-50 tonne) from Nashik to Delhi. The agency is also awaiting the response to the tender floated by the government for import of 10,000 tonne of onion, the last date for which is August 7.
NHRDF has estimated that kharif plantation is likely to increase as compared to last year if the monsoon conditions remain favourable.
The latest monthly report on onion by the NHRDF says that the quality of the stored bulbs is not so good as the good onion bulbs are mixed with rain-soaked ones. Around 15-20% stored onions have been sold in the market so far.
Scanty rains and fears of a weak monsoon has led to farmers to hold on to stocks resulting in lesser arrivals and a sharp rise in onion prices as well.
Wholesale average onion prices crossed Rs 3,600 per quintal on Tuesday to come down to Rs 3,150 per quintal on Wednesday. Around 5,000 quintal of onions arrived at Lasalgaon on Wednesday while 10,480 quintal arrived at the market on Tuesday after a long weekend. Markets were closed on Monday.
According to market officials, prices are likely to remain high for the next three months until the new crop is harvested. Officials attributed the price rise to the quality of onion and lesser arrivals in the market.
Nanasaheb Patil, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, attributed the rise to the demand-supply mismatch and said that the situation is likely to continue for the next one-and-a-half months until the first kharif produce from Karnataka begins to arrive in the market September onwards. This will be followed by Solapur in Maharashtra followed by Lonan and Chakan again in the state with the onions from Nashik expected to hit the market October onwards.
The government has already stocked 10,000 tonne of onion and it remains to be seen how this will be distributed, he said. In 2014-15, around 18.9 million tonne of onions were harvested. However, a good amount of the harvest was damaged due to untimely rains accompanied by hailstorms between February and April. The country consumes up to 15 million tonne per year.
Patil pointed out that Egypt, Pakistam and China usually show interest in supplying onions to India. “Last year as well, the government had decided to import onions and even as onions from Pakistan arrived at the Mumbai port, the landing price was Rs 35 per kg which was much higher than the domestic prices since onion had begun arriving from Karnataka into markets the same time. Therefore that tender process had failed. The response to this tender remains to be seen,” Patil said.