‘Market arrivals of onion improved between September 4 and 16’

Arrival of fresh produce from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the next two to three weeks will ease onion prices providing relief to consumers, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on Thursday, even as the Commerce Ministry hiked the minimum export price of onions to $900 from $650 per tonne to discourage sale outside the country.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Pawar said the problem was not so much in production as heavy rain in the onion belt in Maharashtra that impacted logistics and transportation to Delhi markets and some other places.

Declining to comment on reports of cartelisation by traders, he said the high prices were at the retail end. “Market arrivals had improved considerably between September 4 and 16. In Delhi markets 4,900 quintals arrived on September 4, which improved to 7,000 quintals on September 16.”

The Nationalist Congress Party was not responsible for the crisis, Mr. Pawar said.

Normally July-October is the lean season for onion output. Rabi stocks stored in Maharashtra and Karnataka meet the demand during these months.

Mr. Pawar said market arrivals improved in Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon (Maharashtra), Dhavangere (Karnataka), and Indore (M.P.). The wholesale price ranged between Rs. 25 and 30 a kg. Only in Lasalgaon, did farmers get Rs. 53 on September 16.

“There has been fresh rain in the onion belt of Nasik, Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon. Farmers are facing some problems in harvesting and smooth transportation. But the situation will improve in two to three weeks when fresh crop arrives.”

High diesel price

Sources said that in view of the high price of diesel, some Nasik traders had chosen to transport onions to nearby Hyderabad, Nagpur, Bangalore, etc, rather than to far-flung Delhi, which seems to be bearing the brunt of short supply, with prices there shooting up to Rs. 70-80 a kg as against Rs. 22 around the same time last year.

Mr. Pawar held discussions with Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K.V. Thomas, who said the States were asked to crack down on hoarders. “They have the powers to do so,” he added.

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