Wholesale onion prices on Thursday hit a two-year high of Rs 4,900 a quintal, shooting up by Rs 400 at the country’s largest bulb wholesale market in Lasalgaon, Nashik. According to National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) data, onions being sold at the wholesale price of Rs 4,500 per quintal at Lasalgaon, have now risen to Rs 4,900 per quintal. “Prices have touched a two-year high due to decline in supplies, as harvesting has been delayed and it seems there will be fall in production of kharif onion,” (NHRDF) director R P Gupta told PTI. Gupta said there are chances of decline in kharif onion production from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh due to deficient rainfall, and a threat of drought there. “Besides, harvesting got delayed in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” he added. Further, rabi onion inventory in the country has halved to 14 lakh tonnes, from 28 lakh tonnes in July. Total onion production is estimated to be 189 lakh tonnes for the 2014-15 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than the 194 lakh tonnes a year ago. In order to keep prices in check and ensure smooth supplies, the centre has already asked state-owned MMTC to float a global tender for importing 10,000 tonnes of onions. Meanwhile, traders in Punjab have also started importing onions in small quantities from Afghanistan, through the Attari-Wagah land route. Retail prices of onion have already touched Rs 80 per kg in the capital. In a bid to offer relief to consumers from high prices, the Delhi government has facilitated sale of onions at the subsidised rate of Rs 30 per kg.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Delhi government today formed teams to monitor the stock of the bulb in the wholesale markets in the national capital and check its hoarding.
According to the government, teams of Food and Civil Supplies Department was continuously monitoring the supply and prices of onions in the national capital.
Today, they dispatched six teams to various wholesale mandis in Delhi.
Each team consisted of a food and civil supplies officer and an Inspector besides an officer from Delhi Agriculture and Marketing Board.
"The teams have been asked to check the availability of onions in the wholesale markets and also report about any hoarding or black-marketing activity by unscrupulous elements," a senior office said.
Officers have been directed to keep a strict watch on the Fair Price Shops (FPS) and Mobile Vans, engaged in retail sale of onions, to ensure that they sell the bulb at Rs 30 per kg.
"We have also asked the FPS and mobile van units to sell only one kilogram of onion, priced at Rs 30 per kg, to one person.
There is a heavy demand of cheap onion. We sell close to 3,000 metric tonnes of onion a day. We will continue selling cheaper onion throughout October till prices comes under control," a government spokesperson said.
Minister of Food and Civil Supplies, Asim Ahmed Khan informed that monitoring of supply as well as price movement of onion will continue till their prices stabilise in the open market.
But the wholesale market claimed that the retail prices of onion will further shoot up as its prices in the states which are producing onion has gone up.
The cascading effect of rising wholesale prices reflected in the retail market, as onions were sold at Rs 80 in some of the posh localities in the city.
"Today, a total of 103 truck load of onion arrived here.
Out of which, a maximum of 65 were from Rajasthan. Wholesale price of onion remained today between Rs 40-53 in Azadpur mandi.
"But the fresh stock from onion producing state will reach Delhi in 48 hours which will further lead to rise in prices as the wholesale rate in Nasik has touched Rs 63 per kg. As Delhi do not produce onion, so we are dependent on stock coming from other states," Anil Malhotra, member of Azadpur Mandi Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC).