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Onion prices soar: Govt expresses concern, traders blame short supply

Farmers are not growing onions after prices had hit rock bottom last year, say traders

delhi Updated: Nov 28, 2017 23:13 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,onion prices,inflation
Onion sacks heaped at Azadpur Sabzi Mandi in New Delhi on Monday.(PTI)

Even as the consumer affairs ministry on Tuesday claimed that the retail price of onions had hit ₹63 a kilo, scores of vendors across Delhi were found selling the kitchen essential as high as ₹75.

Usually, a kilo of onion costs ₹25-30 for a consumer, depending on its size and quality, government data suggest. But this week, its prices skyrocketed to ₹60-75 a kilo.

The wholesale rate for the vegetable hit a high of ₹40 a kilo.

Gauging the spiraling onion prices, Delhi government officials expressed concern over it turning out to be a recurring phenomenon.

“It happens every year, and yet nobody seems to be able to curb it. Short-term procurement by the state from neighbouring states could be an option,” a government official said.

Traders in the Azadpur fruit and vegetable Mandi blamed the high prices on limited supply.

“Onion supply has been low compared to the demand. So, prices obviously would increase. A major reason for the low supply is that the production itself has been less this year,” said Rajendra Sharma, a trader and former chairman of the Azadpur mandi.

The low production was because farmers mostly took cues from last year when market rates of onions had hit rocket bottom, he added. “Onion was cheap for the last one-and-a-half years, so many farmers chose not to grow it this time fearing they would earn less,” Sharma said.

At present, Delhi’s maximum onion supplies are coming from Rajasthan. A few trucks also come from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.

Since Maharashtra houses the Lasalgoan mandi, which is Asia’s biggest market for onions, any change in prices there directly impacts other states as almost everyone procures from it.

Consumers were worried. “I bought a kilo of onions for ₹75. Until last week, it was around ₹50. One can understand a spike in prices when it is raining. But what explains this hike now?” asked Shweta Singh, a resident of C Block, Defence Colony.

Manorama Sen, a homemaker from Laxmi Nagar, said she bought only half a kilo when she got to know about the inflated prices. “Onions are more costly than tomatoes. There may be a genuine spike in prices but I feel the retailers are taking advantage of this shortage in supply,” she said.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 23:13 IST