The Centre is attempting to procure onions from Egypt, Turkey, the Netherlands, and some other countries
As stocks of summer onions at Lasalgaon — the country’s largest wholesale market for the edible bulb — have been completely exhausted, prices of wholesale onion touched Rs 7,100 per quintal on Monday, not only the season’s highest but also the highest in the history of the 72-year old Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC). The story is similar in all APMCs in Nashik district .
In neighbouring Pimpalgaon, the red onion sold for an average price of Rs 7,500 per quintal while the Golti onion were sold for Rs 9,500 per quintal. In Kalvan APMC, average prices crossed Rs 9,500 per quintal with the maximum at Rs 11,000 per quintal and minimum at Rs 3,500 per quintal. Average prices were Rs 11,300 per quintal at Yeola as well.
Arrivals on Monday at Lasalgaon were to the tune of 1,850 quintals and maximum prices touched Rs 8,152 per quintal while minimum prices were Rs 2,000 per quintal. Wholesale onion prices on Friday were Rs 4,251 per quintal and arrivals had dropped to 1,500 quintals. On November 30, average prices had touched Rs 6,900 per quintal.
“The summer onion stocks are nil and whatever 15-20% stocks held with farmers are over. The red onion has been damaged by unseasonal rains in Maharashtra to the tune of 50% and the remaining has been damaged. Onions from other states such as Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh are also not arriving in satisfactory quantities. Traders therefore are offering Rs 500-700 more per quintals and prices are rising by Rs 1,200 per quintal in a day,” said Suvarna Jagtap, chairperson, Lasalagaon APMC.
Jagtap pointed out that the late Kharif onion could arrive by mid or late January and therefore this situation could continue for another one and half months making life difficult for consumers. Prices are likely to hit new highs with the crop sown in kharif season being impacted by unseasonal rain. Already hotels and restaurants are feeling the pressure with the onion prices surging exponentially across the country. She said imported onions only end up reaching metros and even in these cities the institutional buyers end up purchasing these. Regular consumers still prefer Nashik onions, she added. One kg of onions is retailing at Rs 90-100 in most states, peaking at Rs 120-130 per kg in cities including Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Odisha and Pune.
The government is attempting to procure onions from Egypt, Turkey, the Netherlands, and some other countries. State-owned MMTC has also signed contracts with Egypt for onion imports and an onion consignment of 6,090 tonne will be available in the country next month. State-owned trading firm MMTC, which is importing onion on behalf of the Centre, has placed an order of 11,000 tonne of onion from Turkey as part of its efforts to boost domestic supply and ease soaring prices. This is the second import order placed by the MMTC in addition to 6,090 tonne already arriving from Egypt.
Last month, the Union Cabinet approved importing 1.2 lakh tonne of onion to improve the domestic supply and control prices that have skyrocketed to Rs 75-120 per kg across major cities now. The Centre has already banned exports and imposed stock holding limit on wholesalers and retailers for indefinite period.
According to market reports, MMTC has contracted 11,000 tonne of onion imports from Turkey and the consignments are expected in January next year. The company had placed an order for the first consignment of 6,090 tonne of onion from Egypt which will be arriving at Nhava Sheva (JNPT), Mumbai in the second week of this month.
The imported onion is being offered to state governments for distribution at the rate of Rs 52-55 per kg ex-Mumbai and Rs 60 per kg ex-Delhi. Last month, the Union Cabinet approved importing 1.2 lakh tonne of onion to improve the domestic supply and control prices that have skyrocketed to Rs 75-120 per kg across major cities.
The imported onion is being offered to state governments for distribution at the rate of Rs 52-55 per kg ex-Mumbai and Rs 60 per kg ex-Delhi. On November 19, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said onion production in kharif and late-kharif seasons of 2019-20 is estimated to fall 26% to 52 lakh tonne.