The retail prices of rice and wheat have remained stable in the major cities during the past four months while prices of potato, onion and tomato have seen significant decline.
Although the prices of key pulses like tur or arhar and moong have softened, they continue to remain at high level.
According to department of consumer affairs data, mainly attributed to ample stocks of wheat and rice with Food Corporation of India (FCI), retail prices of rice and wheat did not witness volatility unlike pulses’ prices in the last four months.
At the start of the month, FCI had wheat and rice stocks of more than 36 million tonne against January 1 buffer stock norm of 21.41 million tonne. “Because of more than adequate stock with the government agencies, the retail prices have been stable,” a food ministry official told FE.
However, prices of pulses are still ruling high because of mismatch in production and consumption. The country imports around 4 million tonne of pulses annually while annual output of pulses is around 18 million tonne.
The retail prices of key vegetables — potato, onion and tomato — across major cities have softened during the past four months because of an increase in kharif supplies. The sharpest fall is witnessed in case of onion prices which has seen a decline across the country because of arrival of kharif crops. This is expected to help the government fight inflation and bring relief to consumers, especially with regard to prices of essential commodities.
According to the Nasik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) reports, the kharif and late kharif output of onion is expected to rise compared to last year. “The onion production will be more by 5-7% in comparison to the last year. The harvesting of onion is in full swing and expected to be over by end of March, 2016,” NHRDF stated in its latest crop prospects report. In 2014-15, the country had produced 18.92 million tonne of onion.
NHRDF has also stated that the harvesting of potato has been commenced from January, and expected to continue till March, in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. The potato production during the current year (2015-16) is expected to be 48 million tonne which is expected to close to last year’s output.
The retail prices of tomato have declined significantly. According to an agriculture ministry official, tomato supplies are expected to increase in the next couple of months thus bringing down the prices further.