Onion prices are unlikely to rise this season as farmers may not be able to store the rain-affected summer (rabi) crop for longer period, a top official of the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) said.
“Normally, the rabi onion can be stored for around 4-5 months. But this time, onions are not well dried and farmers can store them for only 1-2 months. This means they will be forced to bring out the crop within 2-3 months of harvesting,” said RP Gupta, director, NHRDF.
Moreover, since the quality of the crop has been affected, it may not be able to fetch good prices, he added.
“Rain has affected the crop. Farmers can only do some temporary storing since the shelf life of onion has been reduced. For the consumers, this could mean that there will be a steady arrival of onions throughout the year and as a result there is little chance of a price rise,” Gupta explained.
He said that arrivals are less as the farmers are still sorting out the damaged onions from the better ones.
On Wednesday, around 12,500 quintal arrived at Lasalgaon in Nashik, the country’s largest wholesale market for onion, at a minimum price of R400 per quintal and maximum price of R1,421 averaging at a modal price of R1,040.
On Tuesday, arrivals were a meager 8,690 quintal with the minimum price at R300 per quintal and maximum at R1,440 per quintal.
Gupta said if the climate henceforth remains good, farmer may end up planting more kharif onion since the existing rabi crop stock may not last for long. The kharif onion is usually harvested in September-end.
The rabi onion area covered during the current season is around 5.70 lakh hectares, which is 12% more compared to last year’s rabi onion area of 5.07 lakh hectares. The harvesting of rabi onion crop started from mid-March onwards and presently around 10% crop has been harvested. Remaining 90% crop in the country will be harvested by end of May. As per an NHRDF report, the damage to the onion bulb crop in Maharashtra due to rains in Nashik, Ahmednagar, Akola, Beed, Jalna, Aurangabad, Parbhani, Hingoli and Nagpur districts is noted to be around 20%.