The shooting prices of onion has compelled the Union government and traders to import the vegetable from overseas nations like Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her response in the course of a discussion on supplementary grants, informed the Lok Sabha about the different measures undertaken by the government to handle the accelerating rates of onion. The Minister further added that there had been a fall in the area of onion cultivation and shortfall in production. “There are also several structural issues related to storage and the government is trying to address them.’’
While the price of onions has crossed ₹100 per kg because of scarcity, she said, “Steps taken by the government to check the rising price include ban on exports, imposition of stock limit, import and transfer from surplus to deficit area.’’
The state-run trading firm MMTC has placed another onion import order of 4,000 tonnes from Turkey and the shipments are expected to reach by mid-January.
This is in addition to 17,090 tonnes of onions thus far contracted, which includes 6,090 tonnes from Egypt and 11,000 tonnes from Turkey, it said in a statement.
MMTC is importing onions on the behalf of the government, which is trying to check prices of the key bulb by improving domestic supplies through various modes, including imports.
Onions from Afghanistan via Attari-Wagah
Approximately 10 to 15 trucks transferring onion from Afghanistan are coming every day through the Attari-Wagah land route in Amritsar with the price of the important kitchen staple going through the roof.
Each day, 10-15 trucks laden with onions are arriving from Afghanistan, said Anil Mehra, Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Commercial Association on December 4. Each truck carries 35 metric tonne of onion.
Though the trade between India and Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah land route remained suspended, trucks carrying onions continue to arrive from Afghanistan through this route under a bilateral transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Onion prices reached all time high of ₹140 in several states including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam and Odisha.
In Chennai, onions from Egypt have started arriving at the market, but in small numbers. This has not helped in controlling prices. Moreover, the quality is not good. The mismatch between demand and supply has seen costs escalate, traders said.
One kg of small onions is priced up to ₹140. Traders expect the price of onions to come down to ₹40-₹50 a kg only around Pongal, when a fresh crop is harvested and arrivals at the market begin to increase.
Odisha awaits fall in prices
Amid the onion prices coming to ₹120 a kg in open markets of the State, the Odisha government attempts to offer succour to citizens, stating the cost of the vegetable bulb is likely to go down by January first week after production of new crop.
While the onion price in the open market was around ₹90 a kilo on Tuesday, it registered an overnight jump by ₹30 in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The price of onion will come down by December end or by the first week of January, said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister R.P. Swain.