Centre in a fix over Onion supply! Five states withdraw edible bulb’s demand prompting price-cut

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Published: January 8, 2020 1:30:36 AM

Retail onion prices, which were ruling over Rs 100 per kg in most cities since past two months, have started falling with the arrival of new crop as well as the imported onions.

Prices in Delhi are ruling at Rs 70/kg on TuesdayPrices in Delhi are ruling at Rs 70/kg on Tuesday

As retail prices of onions have started softening in the past few days, states such as Assam, Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra and Odisha have withdrawn their demand with the Centre – cumulatively over 16,000 tonne – for supply of the edible bulbs, putting at risk some 12,000 tonne already imported while more than 25,000 tonne is in the pipeline to arrive by this month-end.

Swung by the refusal by these five states to lift the imported onions, the Cabinet secretary hold an emergency meeting with these states on Tuesday and offered to sell them onions at Rs 49-58 per kg, based on the delivery costs at Mumbai. While no state has committed to buy the imported onions mainly due to its poor offtake by consumers, the Centre is hopeful that they will budge and lift these staple food items before they perish, sources said.

Retail onion prices, which were ruling over Rs 100 per kg in most cities since past two months, have started falling with the arrival of new crop as well as the imported onions. Prices in Delhi are ruling at Rs 70/kg on Tuesday, as against Rs 118/kg a fortnight ago, while prices in Mumbai have dropped to Rs 80/kg from Rs 120/kg in the said period, as per the government data.

“We have imported so far 12,000 tonne of onion from countries like Turkey and Afghanistan,” consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday. To boost domestic supply and contain price rise, the government is importing onion through state-owned MMTC and also facilitating private imports.

The Centre had been able to sell 1,000 tonne to Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala, he said. Onion prices have shot up due to 25% fall in kharif production. The minister denied any mistake in doing a proper estimate of the supply in September when the prices started rising. He blamed the current price spiral on unseasonal rains in September-October which delayed planting of kharif crop.

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