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Few takers for Turkish onions in Sahibabad

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At the Sahibabad Mandi, Haji Noor is counting his onions. The wholesaler invested in Turkish onions when the prices of the staple vegetable soared last month. “I bought 150 kattas (bags) of 20 kg each but have been able to sell only 50-60 of them over a week’s period,” he says.

The onion story is turning out to be a layered one. “The government imported it to satiate the ‘hunger’ of the market but the consumer is not even looking at it. Its whitish colour and big size are making it lose out to its Indian variant,” he reasons.

Though its wholesale price is ₹10-15 less than the Alwar variety, he says consumers are not showing much interest in it. “People come to ‘see’ it but they don’t buy it. Some of the pieces are 500-600 gm in weight making it useless for the domestic use.”He says it is only the hotels and dhabas that are showing some interest. “But the feedback is that it doesn’t taste as good as the Indian varieties. Nasik variety is the best but Alwar is not bad either,” remarks Mr. Noor, adding he will not invest in Turkish and Afghani variants in the future.

In one of the biggest markets in the region, the supply of onions has come down to less than 50% since last year. “In November 2018, the supply was 51, 836 quintals. This November, it was 21, 235 quintals. As the crop failed in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, we are getting the supply from Rajasthan,” says Vishvendra Kumar, secretary, Agriculture Produce Market Committee, Ghaziabad.

Bhanu Prajapati, another wholesaler, who resisted the temptation of Turkish onions, argues that farmers, aaratiyas (middlemen who buy from farmers) and retailers make profits because of the surge in prices but for wholesalers, it is business as usual. “The Alwar variety can’t be hoarded. If you don’t sell them within a week, they start losing water and sprouts start appearing. With the demand diminishing because of the high prices, we are being compelled to sell them at cost price.”

On December 9, the wholesale rate of Alwar variety in the mandi was ₹60-70 per kg while the roadside vendors were selling it for ₹90 per kg. A couple of kilometres down the road, it was selling at ₹110-120 per kg.

Mr. Prajapati blames a section of the media for the surge. “They only convey the price of the retailer’s shop. It emboldens the shopkeeper to charge the same price for the next two-three days even if the supply of onions increased in the mandi. The government could help by foregoing the mandi tax for some period.”

Mr. Kumar said there is no such provision. He hopes the situation would improve after December 20 when the Nasik variety was expected to hit the market. “Till then, we are selling one to two quintal onions every day, outside our office with the support of wholesalers, at ₹35-40 per kg to buyers for domestic use,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 8:09:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/few-takers-for-turkish-onions-in-sahibabad/article30259474.ece

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