Other States

Onions missing from Bengal’s fish fry

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The vegetable is being sold at ₹110-120 a kilo in big cities

Golok Nanda, an onion vendor in Kasba market in south Kolkata, was a worried man. He said on Monday that the Bengal’s iconic snack “fish fry” was being sold without onion, over the last fortnight. It was “sacrilege”, he said. “Fish fry cannot be sold without raw onion. [I] never heard of this before.”

Sales hit

Due to a drop in consumption of onion, sale is slack. One kg of onion, which used to be about ₹25 a few months ago, sold at ₹100 on Sunday, which is a record, Mr. Nanda said.

In upmarket areas such as Lake Gardens or Jodhpur Park, the retail prices are even higher, about ₹110-120 a kg, like in major metros.

In central Kolkata’s Koley market, prices are low as it is a wholesale market, but shoots up a few kilometres up north in Manicktala or Paikpara, about ₹80-90 a kg. Trinamool Congress councillors could be seen policing the State’s markets to regulate the prices, while in Bangladesh the government is subsidising prices after India put a temporary ban on the export.

The owner of Sankar’s Fry, perhaps the most popular fish fry joint in south Kolkata, argued that while he has reduced the quantity of onion served free with the fry, he has not stopped it. “I am not sure how long will I be able to maintain the price [of fish fry] while providing onion,” the old man said.

Rajib Das, who runs a snack shop at nearby Gariahat market, said he has “stopped adding onion”.

Unseasonal heavy rainfall in mainly Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana damaged onion production, escalating prices, which however are expected to ease a bit in the winter.

Meanwhile, Chinese social scientists have argued that China can help to bring down the prices. “China has the capacity to export a large volume of onions to India to ease the ‘onion crisis’ if the Indian government asks with sincerity,” Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Chinese newspaper Global Times. CASS closely works with the Chinese government in policy framing.

Trade route

Kolkata has a two-hour long flight from Kunming in Yunnan province of south China and many Chinese products, mainly household gadgets, electronic items and textiles, come to Kolkata through this route.

Razzak Ali of Khidderpore, who brings such items, said for now he is not interested in onion trading. “But I am not sure what would happen if prices go further up,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 2:53:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/onions-missing-from-bengals-fish-fry/article30143102.ece

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