Today, Onion prices touched Rs 100 per kg in this season, nearly four times as much as they were just three months ago. Costs have not reached these levels since 2017 when they hit similar prices in various parts of the country.

The crisis has been ongoing for over a month, leading to the government taking multiple measures to combat the problem. The government halted the export of onions, is importing (this will go on for a bit, not like all of it is in the country) and cracked down on those suspected of hoarding. In Andhra Pradesh, raids were conducted on 70 onion traders, of which 10 were found to be hoarding onions.

Many cities and towns have witnessed a sharp rise in onion prices since the states are dependent on one of the largest onion producers in India – Lasalgaon in Nashik district, Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are also some of the biggest producers of onion in the country.

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On November 4, the wholesale prices rose by a whopping 120% in Lasalgaon market. Key onion-producing locations in the country were affected by two things this year — first drought, then excess rainfall. States like Maharashtra and Karnataka also witnessed unseasonal rains and flooding.

Onion production is estimated to have decreased by 10 lakh tonnes this year, in comparison to last year’s kharif season (the cropping season from June to October), according to Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava.

Even in the crop that was harvested, produce delivered was of lower quality in some locations due to flooded storage spaces.

Lower produce and lesser quality produce has both led to a supply crunch, pushing prices up.

This price rise comes during an economic downturn in the country, forcing the government to scramble for measures to meet the demand for the staple vegetable.

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It was to ease this pressure that the government decided to import 1,00,000 tonnes of onions. In addition to this, the government also relaxed fumigation norms on onions for import — which, otherwise, is a mandatory process.

Imported onions usually have to be treated or fumigated for any sort of infestation. This is done to ensure that diseases and pests concerning India don’t enter the country, and the standard of the onions is usually ensured by the exporting country.

The fumigation norm has been relaxed till December 31. The Agriculture Ministry said that consignments of imported onions, which arrive at a port without fumigation, would be fumigated in India through an accredited treatment provider.

Cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Kerala get most of their onion supply from Nashik and other Maharashtra districts. But the unseasonal rains there, which led to increased demand, the onions had to be procured from other locations.

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Hyderabad, Telangana: The retail prices of onions in Hyderabad are between Rs 80-100 per kilo, and lower quality onions can be procured at Rs 60.

November 2018 (per quintal) November 2019 (per quintal)
Wholesale Rs 1,526 Rs 3,140
Retail Rs 2,365 Rs 7,280
*Source: The National Horticulture Board

Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh: In Andhra Pradesh, the onion price crisis has reached such heights that on November 8, the Vigilance and Enforcement officers conducted raids on 70 onion traders across the state on suspicion of hoarding onions. After the raids, 10 were found hoarding 603.50 quintals of onions.

Prices hovered between Rs 60-70 last week in Vijayawada, and many farmers’ markets reportedly had ‘no stock’ signs. #KhabarLive


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