Onion prices ease on imports, supply from AP, Karnataka

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Pune | Published: September 9, 2015 12:06:45 AM

Around 10-12 lakh tonne of onions are available for consumption in the country after around 65-70% of the stored stock got exhausted till August...

Around 10-12 lakh tonne of onions are available for consumption in the country after around 65-70% of the stored stock got exhausted till August, the latest report of the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) says. About 15-20% losses too were reported in storage.

However, steady arrivals of onion from Afghanistan in the North, Egyptian crop in Mumbai and early harvesting of the crop in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have  led to easing of prices despite lower arrivals at Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale onion market.

On Tuesday, around 1,600 quintals of onion arrived at Lasalgaon  with prices averaging at Rs 4,500 per quintal.

Average prices remained the same on Monday as well with the arrival of barely 1,026 quintals on Monday. According to Agriculture Market Produce Committee (APMC) officials at Vashi , around 200-250 containers  arrived at JNPT Port over the last few days. Of the nine containers that arrived on Monday,  two were brought to Vashi while the rest were distributed across markets in the country, Ashok Walunj,  former director,  APMC (onions & potato), Vashi, and director, Maharashtra Rajya Bazaar Sangh, said.

Some 25-30 containers of onion have arrived in the last 10 days and till date around 200-250 containers have arrived, he said, adding it is difficult to give accurate estimates since traders prefer to remain silent due to competition.

However, there is onion shortage across India because of the  poor monsoon, although crop arrivals have begun from the South, he said, adding this has led to less demand from consumers as well.

At present, new onion prices are retailing at Rs 50 per kg as against Rs 60-70 per kg for old variety.  RP Gupta, NHRDF director,  says there will be a drop in area and production in Maharashtra due to the drought. In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the area is normal but output will be low for the same reason. However, these shortfalls will be made up by the increased area in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat, he said.

According to earlier estimates given by the NHRDF, India had produced 193.53 lakh tonnes in 2014-15, slightly lower than 194.02 lakh tonnes a year earlier. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are traditional kharif onion producing states and the acreage here is on the rise due to water availability, he pointed out.

According to Jai Gopal, director, Garlic Research Centre,  Nashik, Maharashtra will see a fall in both area — to the tune of 20% — and production   this kharif season on account of drought conditions.

Rains are not sufficient  and since onion is a rain-fed crop may farmers find themselves in a dilemma. In June, the rainfall was  good and then the demand for seeds was very high, he said. However, there has been a gap in rains since then because of which farmers have not been able to transplant the crop, Gopal said.

Maharashtra is the largest producer of onion in the country. The increased area under the bulb in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, is likely to make up for the loss, said officials, even though estimates were yet to be confirmed.

Harvesting of early kharif crop have already started in the Kurnool area of Andhra Pradesh and Hubli, Chitradurga, Chilekere, Hiriyur and Molakalmuru areas of Karnataka.  Fresh crop arrived in the markets of Kurnool, Hyderabad, Hubli and Bangalore.

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