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Onion cheaper than last year, efforts now bearing results, says Centre

The Centre built a record reserve of 200,000 tonnes of onions in August to help deal with any major spikes in prices. Any increase stokes food inflation and knock the monthly budgets of consumers.
Labourers unload onion sacks from a truck at Azadpur Mandi, in New Delhi.(PTI File Photo)
Published on Nov 04, 2021 09:41 AM IST
By | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Centre has said that the price of onions this year is cheaper as compared to last year, adding that the government's effort to ease the rates is "now bearing results".

The ministry of consumer affairs informed in a statement on Wednesday that all India retail and wholesale prices of onion are presently 40.13 per kg and 3,215.92 per quintal respectively.

"In order to cool down prices, the Department of Consumer Affairs has taken up calibrated and targeted release of onions from the buffer on First-in-First-Out (FIFO) principle, guided by the twin objectives of moderating prices and ensuring minimal storage loss," the ministry said.

"Till November 2, 2021, a total of 1,11,376.17 metric tons (MT) has been released in major markets such as Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Kochi and Raipur. In addition, onions are disposed of in local markets in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat," it added.

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The hike in prices of key kitchen staple started in the first week of October and reached close to 60 per kg in Kolkata. The government attributed it to rain, which it said disrupted the supply chain.

In a bid to stabilise the price, the Centre released buffer stocks in states where onions were being sold above the all-India average price. The government also offered to sell states and union territories onion from its buffer stock at an ex-storage rate of 21 per kg.

The Centre built a record reserve of 200,000 tonnes of onions in August to help deal with any major spikes in prices.

Onion prices had doubled in October 2020 too, due to unseasonal rainfall during March and April that year, which shrivelled crops. Retail prices first rose to about 70 per kg in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi from usual rates of between 35 and 40, and then spiralled to 100 per kg.

Prices of some food items, where seasonality plays a big role, tend to be volatile. Onion is one of them. Its rates often stoke food inflation and knock the monthly budgets of consumers, poor or rich, because the vegetable is a base ingredient of most Indian dishes.

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