Onion prices continued to hover at record highs of Rs. 90 per kg for the third day on Wednesday with no sight of respite as Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said rates will remain high for two-three more weeks.
Refusing to ban export of onion, the Centre asked state governments to invoke Essential Commodities Act to crackdown on hoarders.
It however initiated the process of importing onion from Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and China to cool rates.
“...next two to three weeks will be tough and ultimately we have to find a solution,” Mr. Pawar said in Bangalore replying to a query on onion prices that have reached an all-time high.
Asked whether he meant that the prices would come down in the next two to three weeks, he said: “No, no. I am not an astrologer. But I know something about crops. On my own assessment, this situation will continue for the next two to three weeks.”
Mr. Pawar asked the Chief Ministers of all states to invoke the Essential Commodities Act against hoarders. The Minister also said that he would inform Food Minister K.V. Thomas that the co-operative NAFED is ready to import some quantity of the bulb.
Stating that extensive rainfall has hit supply, Mr. Pawar said: “We have to import as early as possible. I have instructed the Managing Director of NAFED (that) if there is a request from any state we should be ready.”
“Fortunately, there is ample onion (stock) available in China, Egypt and neighbouring countries and (I) have collected figures and prices on Tuesday. The prices in these countries are cheaper compared to India,” Mr. Pawar added.
Meanwhile, NAFED on Wednesday floated tender for import of the edible bulb from Pakistan, Iran, China and Egypt. It has also relaxed the conditions for imports to augment domestic supply.
The Centre has also called a meeting of agriculture secretaries of five major onion producing states -- Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka -- on October 25 to review the production and marketing of the crop.