Tamil Nadu

Onion prices skyrocket across Tamil Nadu

Price touches ₹100 a kg in wholesale market; to stabilise only by mid-December

The price of onion, an important kitchen staple, touched ₹100 a kg in the wholesale market on Tuesday. Traders note there may be a further spike in its cost, and prices may drop only around mid-December.

The cost of small onion and drumsticks too have been on an upswing since the first week of November. Traders said the unseasonal rain in Maharashtra and crop damage had led to a surge in prices. The Koyambedu wholesale market is receiving only 40 to 50 truckloads of onion daily and a shortfall of 40% of produce has led to a spike in prices.

Onion has become costly in other cities too, as arrivals have declined. The wholesale price of onion in Coimbatore on Tuesday was ₹95 a kg. M. Rajendran, onion trader and president of Thyagi Kumaran Market Vegetable Merchants’ Association, Coimbatore, said: “We used to get 600 to 700 tonnes of big onion daily from Karnataka and Maharashtra. It has reduced to 200 tonnes now. The fresh arrivals do not last the 48-hour transport from Maharashtra to Coimbatore.”

At the Uzhavar Sandhais in Coimbatore, the price of small onion range from ₹65-85 a kg, while big onion are priced ₹60-80 a kg.

Consumers were in for a shock, as onion prices in retail markets surged on a daily basis. The cost of onion increased from ₹80 a kg two days ago, to ₹100-110 a kg, in Chennai. Many residents noted that they spend one-third of their vegetable shopping budgets on onion. A kilogram of drumsticks is priced up to a staggering ₹250. A bunch of coriander leaves also costs ₹15-20.

Hoteliers too are in a fix. “Onion is a base product in the dishes. We reduce the use of onions wherever possible,” says Jegan S. Damodarasamy, executive director of Sree Annapoorna Sree Gowrishankar Hotels.

S. Chandran, general secretary, Federation of Chennai Koyambedu Wholesale Market Associations, said there had been a steady rise in onion prices since November first week. “The cost went up by ₹5 a kg daily, due to low yield and surge in demand. We expect the rates to come down to ₹60 a kg only by mid-December or January,” he said. The shortage of onion has also sent the cost of small onions spiralling. Small onion, which was sold for ₹70/kg early November, now costs up to ₹130 a kg, depending on the quality.

Traders noted that drumsticks are costly now, as this is not its season, noted traders. However, the market receives stock from places such as Vadodara. This time, short supply from the region has led to a steep increase in prices.

Plea to import onion

P. Sukumar, treasurer, Koyambedu Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers Merchants’ Welfare Association, said onion prices previously hit ₹100 a kg a decade ago. Imported onion from Egypt is yet to reach the city. There is no storage facility or space for hoarding in the market.

“The government must explore storage facilities, like in Israel and Brazil, where onion is stored in open ventilated warehouses,” he said.

C.M. Jayaraman, president of Coimbatore Consumer Voice, said the government should distribute a minimum of 5 kg of onion through PDS outlets, State-owned supermarkets and Uzhavar Sandhais.

PMK founder S. Ramadoss on Tuesday demanded that the Central and State governments take immediate steps to rein in the price of onions and asked the government to ease the rules to import onions from Egypt.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 3:58:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/onion-prices-skyrocket-across-state/article30091407.ece

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