'Prices to normalise in a fortnight' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Prices to normalise in a fortnight'

State Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the government was moving fast to bring down onion prices. Unseasonal rain, he said, damaged the crop and led to the price rise. In conversation with Sayli Udas Mankikar.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2010 01:32 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

State Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said the government was moving fast to bring down onion prices. Unseasonal rain, he said, damaged the crop and led to the price rise.

How long will onion prices remain high?

They will normalise within 15 days. We already have reports of prices falling after the first batch of onions from Pakistan arrived on Tuesday. The impact will trickle down to retailers.

How do you plan to solve the crisis?

We have a multi-pronged approach. We are importing 10,000 quintals of onions; some of that stock is already in the market. I have written to market committees to free up onions stored for exports, approximately 5 lakh tons. Also, stocks from other states — Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan — will arrive within a fortnight. All this will stabilise prices.

What about rumours that an artificial scarcity was created by hoarders?

That cannot be true because unseasonal rain wiped out up to 87% of the crop. Also, the shelf life of onions is only two months. Even so, I have asked market committee heads and district officials to visit markets to ensure there is no hoarding.

So the rain is to blame?

Yes. About 27,000 hectares of onion farmland was affected. Because of all this, the average width of onions reduced by half — from 70 mm earlier to 35 mm now.