Soaring prices of onions pinching people

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Aug 2017 10:17:54


By Kirit Joshi,


Skyrocketing prices of ‘Onions,’ a staple veggie that has earlier triggered mass outcry and even toppled the governments in the past, is once again surging in the local vegetable markets of Chhattisgarh, be it retail or wholesale. The Onions prices surge has made it difficult for the commoners as well as the elite class to include it in their day-to-day dietary intake as price overshooting of this vegetable these days is leading to rationing by most of the people.

If the local suppliers and stockists (cold storage owners) are to be believed, onions is these days considered to be a scarce commodity, which most of the kitchens are unable to afford due to its price factor. Thanks to the price leap in past few weeks as well as gross mismatch between demand and supply network, that has been severely hit by weak monsoon rains.

But the administration continues to harp and assert that they are constantly monitoring the prices of vegetables, particularly the Onion, which is ‘politically’ sensitive and any imbalance in prices may spark a fresh row in the political circles of the State. However, the administration assured that it has ensured a ‘price-rise-check’ mechanism by creating on buffer stock of onions, but it seems to have failed and its obvious fallout - onion price overshoot.

Another crucial factor triggering the price-rise was inadequate supply against demand in local market and hoarding which created artificial shortage resulting in skyrocketing of prices. The prices hovered around Rs 10 to 12 per kg during the beginning of the month and surprisingly scooped to Rs 40.

Talking to this scribe, an onion wholesaler at Nagpur based Kalamna market Dharmesh Vyas said “the existing unpredictable onion business is a one month game. With better crops for the coming season in South India, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the pressure of excess stock would scoop down the prices. On the other hand, if crop gets affected or there is a shortfall, the prices will touch the peak”.

Dharmesh said “Today onions are sold at a wholesale price ranging Rs 15 to 25 per kg while in retail it is available at Rs 25 to 35. Though the prices have gone up by 100 per cent, these are stable for last 3/4 days”.

Sharing his views on factors for sudden volatility in onion business, he said that this year Madhya Pradesh recorded bumper onion production which as usual arrived in the market in March and April. After these stocks got exhausted by the end of July, there was a sudden boom in the prices which benefited the Nasik, Lasalgaon and other local wholesale mandies. However, this produce is also an old stock and got unexpected advantage of off-season in MP, he added.

Before Diwali mainly with the beginning of Navaratri festival, the yield from different onion producing belt in Maharashtra starts reaching the wholesale market. At the same time, sales of old stock that is being consumed in Southern region so far drastically comes down. Since people of that region prefer fresh arrivals from September first week, the existing old stock is pushed to the wholesale mandies in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. This significantly stabilizes the shooting prices, Vyas maintained.