In response to the Delhi Government’s allegation that hoarding of onions in Madhya Pradesh has resulted in the escalation of its rates in Delhi, State Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Paraschandra Jain told The Hindu : “When onions are harvested it is stored by both farmers and traders. They can’t be hoarded indefinitely or they will spoil. The poor will not die if they don’t eat onions. When coriander prices go up even I don't eat coriander.”

A top bureaucrat in the Food and Civil Supplies Department explained: “It can only be called hoarding if it is in violation of any law. The only law that governs this is the Essential Commodities Act. Only the Union Government has powers to add to delete any food product in this Act. Onion was covered under the act for a short while more than a decade ago. It was taken off the list and now only some cereals and lentils are on the list.”

“However”, he added, “When a TV channel reported of hoarding in Shajapur and Sehore districts last month, we immediately asked the collectors to investigate. The report was found to be baseless as these were stored by farmers and not traders. In any case, under the law we cannot prosecute anyone for storing onions as farmers have the right to sell whenever they get they price they want. As per our information, there are no large stocks anywhere in the state. Most storage was being done by farmers themselves.”

He explained, “I personally believe that the price rise is due to a supply failure in Nashik in Maharashtra where most of the onion trading take place.” Pimpalgaon and Lasalgaon in Nashik are the hub of onion trading in Central India. The crop harvested in April-May reaches markets by July- August.