Onion prices may skyrocket by October

New Delhi, Jul 30 | Updated: Jul 31 2008, 05:53am hrs
Come winter and onion may bring more tears in the eyes. The country is likely to face acute shortage of onion because of less acreage due to low rains, a development, which may put severe pressure on its prices.

The government, already battling a near 12% inflation, may have to resort to make exports costly to ensure maximum availability of onion, considered a poor man's food, in the domestic market. "Prices are likely to rise in October due to a shortage of onions, thanks to low rainfall in some parts of major producing states, which has delayed the early kharif sowing," a senior official of agri cooperative and nodal agency for onion exports NAFED said.

To assess the situation and take a decision on a hike in the minimum export price, a meeting of NAFED and 12 other nodal agencies involved in onion exports was held on Wednesday. Onion prices have always been a sensitive issue and any major movement in prices, when five states are going for elections, could be a cause for concern.

Apart from delayed sowing, hoarders also play a major role in the price rise, the official said.

However, he said the storage level this year is higher at 25 lakh tonne against 22 lakh tonne last year. But even then, he added, the stocks may not be sufficient to tackle the demand. Already, low rainfall in leading onion producing states, such as Maharashtra and Karnataka has dented its acreage.

"Low rainfall has affected crop areas and productivity. But we are hopeful that the last week of July and the first week of August will bring some cheer on the monsoon front," Nashik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) additional director Satish Bhonde said.