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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Kolkata to feel the onion pinch till Diwali and beyond

Ravik Bhattacharya , Hindustan Times  Kolkata, October 28, 2013
First Published: 09:51 IST(28/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:54 IST(28/10/2013)

Prepare to shed onion tears till Diwali and beyond! The spiraling price of the bulb could continue to torment households till November-end, say dealers.

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Traders said the bulb would continue to trend abnormally high at most city markets, till fresh supplies from Nashik start arriving from mid-November.

However, even the bulk arrival from Nashik could be delayed in the event of more rain and the price pain might then extend up to the New Year, sources said.

Onion prices have of late thrown scores of household budgets haywire, with the bulb touching a record Rs. 90/kg in Delhi and Rs. 70/kg in Kolkata.

There has also been no respite in such states as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, with the price showing an alarming northward trend.

The retail price of the bulb touched a mind-numbing Rs. 100/kg in Patna, sending the Congress-led UPA into a huddle and putting a fresh scanner on hoarders.

“We don’t expect fresh supplies from Nashik to hit city markets before Diwali or midNovember. There could even be a further delay in the event of more rain in Maharashtra. Only fresh supplies could keep the retail price of onion from scaling even higher. However, it will take more time for the price to stabilise and reach normal levels,” Debashish Saha, a member of Krishna Traders, one of the major dealers and exporters of onions, said.

“However, we can’t realistically hope for the price to cool down before the end of November. The onion harvest in Nashik has been good this year, but the supplies will take time to reach the city markets. We don’t see the wholesale price of onion coming down to about Rs. 20/kg before December or even January,” Satyanarayan, a trader with Navin Impex, one of the leading onion exporters, said.

Quizzed on the abnormal price trend of the kitchen staple, the dealers blamed the rise on unseasonal rain in South India, which they said led to a supply crunch and literally sent the price through the roof during the festive season.

The fresh lot of onions that had been expected to arrive from South India was delayed because of the rain.

The majority of the supplies that did arrive from the south were not of good quality, the dealers said.

Dealers said other vegetables too have been in short supply owing to unseasonal rain and flooding in neighbouring states and certain areas of Bengal.

“Heavy rain in Karnataka has hit the onion trade and has kept farmers from bringing their produce to the market. Wholesale price in the production areas down south rose to Rs. 55/kg on account of rain. The scene has been no better in Nashik, with the wholesale price trending between Rs. 48 and Rs. 55 per kilogram. Supply crunch has also led to a surge in demand of onions in such states as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” Satyanarayan said.

Dealers said the domestic stock in such states as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is expected to bottom out in November.

“Our domestic stock ran out two months back,” Satyanarayan said.

The demand-supply imbalance of the kitchen staple has hit scores of households across the country this festive season.

The Delhi gover nment has arranged for 100 mobile vans, which are to sell onions at subsidised rates.

The Mamata government too has set up a panel to monitor the price of veggies and fixed the retail price of potato at Rs. 14/ kg.

State officials said the bulb is being sold at Rs. 36/kg at 40 designated markets.


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