Karnataka

Onion prices hit record high

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Crosses ₹100/kg in wholesale markets

In the kitchen, onions and tears go hand in hand, but the potent effect of the staple ingredient is now making buyers weep even while shopping. In what could well be a record for the State, a kilo of onion on Wednesday crossed ₹100 in wholesale markets.

Traders and officials in the Horticulture Department claimed that this was the first time onion prices had crossed the psychological barrier of ₹100 in Karnataka. It is being sold for ₹115-₹135 a kg in retail markets, while the Horticultural Producers’ Cooperative Marketing and Processing Society (HOPCOMS) price on Wednesday was ₹118.

The price hike indicates that the Union government’s programme to stabilise the rising cost of kitchen staples — tomatoes, onions, and potatoes — announced in the 2018-19 budget, has evidently failed to take off, said a senior procurement official for a leading retail chain.

Farmers and traders blame the heavy rains in August and September across Karnataka and Maharashtra. “This has led to large-scale crop damage creating an acute shortage of supply. Even the onions currently being sold are wet, of very low quality, and decompose very fast,” said Ravi Kumar of the Bangalore Onion and Potato Merchants’ Association.

A respite in the near future seems unlikely as the next harvest is only expected by the end of January 2020. This gives no respite to consumers for another two months and may drive the retail prices further north to even cross the ₹150 barrier if the government doesn’t intervene, traders said. “The only way to bring some stability in the prices is to import onions from Egypt on a mass scale,” said B.N. Parasad, managing director, HOPCOMS.

Lax response

The Union government-owned MMTC Ltd. is said to be looking at importing one lakh tonnes of onions from Egypt and has already placed an order for the first consignment of 6,090 tonnes at a cost of ₹60/kg. It is expected to land on Indian shores by the first week of December. However, Karnataka is yet to place an order for onions from this consignment.

When contacted, Shashikala Jolle, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, said she was busy with the byelection campaign in Gokak, Belagavi, but would review the situation soon.

Shamla Iqbal, Commissioner, Food and Civil Supplies Department, said the department was reviewing production strategy with the Horticulture Department and will take a call. “There is still time to place an order,” she said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 9:07:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/onion-prices-hit-record-high/article30100440.ece

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