With the price of both Bellary and small onions on the upswing over the past few days, wholesale traders of Tiruchi have called upon the Centre to ban exports.

Bellary onions were sold at Rs. 50 a kg and small onions at Rs. 40 a kg in the wholesale market at the Gandhi Market on Tuesday.

However, the retail price of Bellary onion ruled anywhere between Rs. 55 and Rs. 65 a kg, depending on the quality and location.

The retail price of small onions was higher by Rs. 5 to Rs. 10 a kg. The Tiruchi wholesale market caters to the city and the neighbouring districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Perambalur, and Ariyalur.

The price of Bellary onion has witnessed a steady increase since June end when the bulbs were available at Rs.15 to Rs. 20 a kg in the wholesale market.

At that time, the price of small onions had witnessed a big upsurge, touching Rs. 100 a kg at one stage.

The price of small onions stabilised in July after arrivals from Karnataka picked up only to go up again now.

Traders here attribute the rise in price of the onions to the heavy export demand.

Arrival of Bellary onions from Maharashtra, they said, had come down over the past few days. “At present, we are getting just about 200 tonnes of Bellary onions against the normal of 500 tonnes a day. Existing stocks are said to be low and fresh crops are not expected for the next three months,” said A. Thangaraj, General Secretary, Tiruchi Onion Commission Mandi Traders’ Association.

Traders expect the price of onion varieties to go up further unless the Centre intervened to ban exports.

“Bellary onion could possibly touch Rs.100 a kg as there will be good demand until Deepavali. Small onion price could touch Rs.60 a kg in next 10 days. Export of all onion varieties should be banned in the interests of consumers,” Mr. Thangaraj said.

Although neighbouring Perambalur district and the Thuraiyur belt in Tiruchi district together make for the largest small onion producing region in the State, traders here point out that many onion growers did not cultivate the crop in the region owing to the drought-like condition over the past few months. Some farmers were holding on to their stocks expecting an appreciation in price.

Wholesale traders deny that they were hoarding the bulbs to create an artificial scarcity as alleged in some quarters. “Onions could be stored only under well ventilated condition and traders cannot do it. Only farmers can do it properly,” said Mr. Thangaraj.