Andhra Pradesh

Bitter Onion: out of kitchens and common man’s reach

Women sorting onions at a market in Chikmagalur, Karnataka | File

Women sorting onions at a market in Chikmagalur, Karnataka | File   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Traders are selling the vegetable at a price ranging from ₹100 to ₹250 a kg, depending on the demand.

Serpentine queues, fisticuffs, arguments with traders, stampedes in queue lines and consumers receiving injuries. These are the scenes witnessed at many Rythu Bazaars across Andhra Pradesh for the last two months to purchase onions.

The prices of the staple vegetable have been spiralling in the market in Andhra Pradesh since a few days. Traders are selling the vegetable at a price ranging from ₹100 to ₹250 a kg, depending on the demand.

The price of the Asian diet staple has touched all-time high in the last few decades and the situation may continue for a few more days, traders say.

People have been waiting in serpentine queues since the morning at Rythu Bazaars to buy 1 kg onions at ₹25 per head after getting their Aadhaar cards verified.

Also read: Subsidised onions: Long queues no deterrent

"I have seen the governments selling onions at ₹100 and ₹120. But, I never purchased it at ₹200 per kg, and this is the first time I have heard the high price," said 72-year-old Racharla Ramachandra Rao of Chintalapudi in West Godavari district.

Officials and the Vigilance and Enforcement (V&E) conducted raids on wholesale traders to check hoarding of stocks. However, the situation has not eased and the prices surged further in the last one month bringing tears to the people.

Off the menu

Unable to by onions at exorbitant prices. some people have temporarily stopped using the bulb. Hoteliers and restaurants are not serving onions and garnishing dishes with onion slices.

As a result of skyrocketing of onion prices, sale of meat, chicken and fish, prawns and other seafood has come down in the last two months, poultry shop owners said.

Also read: When kitchens turn into a lab: people experimenting with dishes without onions

Andhra’s mouthwatering dish, ‘onion pakoda’ (called as ulli pakoda in local parlance) has disappeared in many hotels and sweet stalls since the last few months.

Functions put off

Many families were putting off parties and receptions owing to severe shortage of onions. People are worried about Christmas, New Year and Sankranti celebrations, as onion is a must for many dishes prepared during the festivals.

"Onions are the common diet staple in all curries, fries and special variety cuisines. The famous Andhra’s ‘Chepa Pulusu’, ‘Natukodi Kura’, ‘Ulli Pakoda’, ‘Royyala Vepudu’, ‘Mutton roast’ and other dishes cannot be prepared without onions. We are getting tears by just hearing the price of onions", said a homemaker Guttula Shyamala of Razole in East Godavari district.

Also read: Onion harvest: farmers in a hurry

Officials attribute the crisis situation to excess rainfall and drop in onion production in Andhra Pradesh and the neighbouring States.

Crop in 31,000 hectares

Agriculture Department Special Commissioner H. Arun Kumar said farmers were cultivating onions in about 31,000 hectares during the kharif season in Andhra Pradesh. The production during the same season was about 6.77 lakh metric tonnes.

In Rabi season, onion crop is bring raised in about 7,000 hectares in Andhra Pradesh, and farmers will harvest the crop by January-end and February next year, Mr. Kumar said.

Also read: Peeling the layers off onions' price-rise

According to official sources, government so far procured about 35,000 quintals of onions from Kurnool and West Godavari districts, and Maharashtra, and to supplying the vegetable at subsidised prices.

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) data says that India is one among the three top countries in onion exports in the global market. India exported 2.2 million tonnes of fresh onions in the 2018-19 fiscal.

Countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sri Lanka, Nepal and others are importing fresh onions from the country.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:52:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/bitter-onion/article30308475.ece

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