The retail price of onion touched Rs 80 per kilo in Mumbai on Saturday, and with the new crop not expected any time soon, the price of India’s most essential vegetable could inch closer to the three-figure mark, say traders.
The wholesale price of onions has tripled over the past month, while the retail price has doubled in that time, having shot up by 33% in just the past four days.
The wholesale price was Rs 16-17 per kg in the first week of July, Rs 35-38 per kg at the start of August, and Rs 45-50 per kg just four days ago. It is now Rs 60-62 per kg.
The retail price has followed a similar trend. From Rs 30 per kg last month, it shot up to Rs 50 per kg at the start of August, and is now Rs 80 per kg. It has shot up by Rs 20 per kg in just the past four days.
Ashok Karpe, a wholesaler, said, “Usually 125 to 130 vehicles carrying onions come to the market every day. At present, the number is around 80 to 90.”
He added, “Forty tonnes of onions from Egypt have arrived at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port but it will make little difference. The consignment will take a week to be cleared by the port and we have no idea of its quality. There is no crop left in Maharashtra, so there is going to be huge shortage.”
“The absence of rain means the new crop in Maharashtra will come only after three months. Some onions could arrive from Karnataka by September 15. If that crop is good, there could be some respite,” Karpe said.
Retailers, meanwhile, say they are suffering losses. Rajesh Gupta, a retailer at Vashi, said, “It is becoming very difficult to sell onions. Customers are upset and buying smaller quantities. We cannot raise the price much despite the increase in the wholesale price.”
He added, “It does not look like the prices are going to come down soon. In fact, onions could cost up to Rs 90 per kg soon.”
Babaji Evle, a farmer from Renvadi village of Ahmednagar taluka, said “We are facing very tough times. Only 25% of the produce can be sold. We are unable to meet even our costs.”
On how the market will behave in the next few days, Karpe said, “It all depends on how much stock farmers release in their local markets across the state on Sunday - not that there is much. Prices are very fluid right now.”