The retail prices of onion and tomatoes largely remained unchanged on Saturday although the price of garlic dipped by up to Rs. 40 a kg on the back of improved supplies. It is expected that the availability of these essential items would improve in another three weeks when the late kharif crop is expected in the market.
According to reports from the four metros, onion price remained stable on Saturday at Rs. 50-60 a kg, while tomato sold at around Rs. 40 a kg in retail markets. Garlic was about Rs. 250 a kg, showing a dip of Rs. 40 a kg in Mumbai, Rs. 25 a kg in Chennai and Rs. 10 a kg in Kolkata.
The spurt in prices is not only because of damage to crop but also because the movement of all heavy goods vehicles on the Outer Ring Road was banned from December 17 during the Congress plenary at Burari, hitting hard the supply of vegetables and fruits. A notification banning movement of heavy vehicle from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. for almost a week was issued in major newspapers. The Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan involving blocking of road and rail traffic also impacted supply of goods and vegetables.
Taking advantage of the situation, traders held back onion, leading to market distortion and sudden squeeze on supplies. The moment the Delhi government was nudged by the Centre to crack down on hoarders, out came stocks and prices showed a decline.
The Centre has written to the State governments to ease movement of these commodities and crack down on hoarders so that availability in metros was not affected. The police chiefs have been asked to ensure that there were no bottlenecks in moving the products from source States to consuming metros.
The mandi arrival of onion in Lasalgaon in Maharashtra was 10,000 quintals on Friday (December 24) at Rs. 1800 a quintal as against 9135 quintals at Rs. 1401 a quintal last year. In Pimpalgaon mandi, the average rate of onion on Friday was Rs. 1851 a quintal as against Rs. 1401 a quintal last year. In Bangalore, on Friday, the mandi arrival of onion was 17,991 quintals at Rs. 2,750 per quintal as against 14,214 last year.