Onion prices double, stir up trouble in election year
Prices have more than doubled in the last three months and no respite is in sight. Supplies remain tight as low rainfall has cut sowing and curtailed growth of individual bulbs.
Indians eat their way through 15 million tonnes of onions a year, using them as the base for traditional dishes such as biryani and bhaji and making them a hot political issue and a kick to inflation when the price rises.
"I don't understand how suddenly prices skyrocket. I have to buy at whatever price vendors are asking. I can't buy less just because prices are high," said Pooja Kadakia, 28, a housewife shopping in central Mumbai.
Onions cost 35 rupees (66 U.S. cents) per kg on Friday, compared with 10 rupees three months back. Further increases look likely, with food inflation running in double digits.
"Planting is down in all the major producing states. There is severe water scarcity in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka," Satish Bhonde, a director at the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation, told Reuters.
Bhonde predicted a 10 percent drop in production from last year. India produced a record 17.5 million tonnes in 2011/12.
Relief could come with the new crop in October, but the government faces 10 state elections this year and needs a good summer monsoon. National elections are due next year.
The opposition Bharatiya Janta
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