New Delhi: Once again, onion prices have shot up to Rs 80/kg in the retail market due to 30-40% decline in domestic production.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava told reporters on Wednesday that said onion production was estimated to have declined to 20 lakh tonnes in 2019 kharif season from 30 lakh tonnes in the same season last year.
The production figures have not yet been received from the Maharashtra government, but there is substantial fall in the output because floods, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters.
Not only in Delhi, onion prices are ruling high in most of the consuming areas across the country. However, in the national capital, onion has been a "politically sensitive" commodity.
In Delhi, the availability of onion is being improved from the central buffer stock handled by co-operative Nafed.
The buffer stock has been given to Mother Dairy for retailing at a cheaper rate of Rs 24.90/kg through its 400-odd Safal outlets to provide relief to consumers.
However, some of the Safal outlets are running out of stock and poor consumers are returning with disappointment.
"I waited for two hours in the queue to buy onions from Safal but when my turn came the stock got over," said a housemaid, Mumtaz, who was waiting outside the Safal outlet at Jangpura Extension.
The price rise has affected people to such an extent that in some localities, the customers of a particular colony are requesting the Safal owners not to sell the commodity to outsiders.
Meanwhile, the government was taking all steps to contain the price rise, said Paswan, who reviewed the situation of demand, supply and prices with top officials of food and consumer affairs departments for two hours at his residence. The secretaries of both the departments were present.
"We have reviewed the onion availability and price situation. Prices have gone up as production (kharif onion) has declined by 30-40% in the country," Paswan told reporters here.
The minister said there was a delay in sowing of kharif onion because of late arrival of monsoon and later floods in many states damaged the crop.
Stating that prices fluctuate depending on supply-demand, Paswan said currently, there was a mismatch, but the government was taking measures to improve availability and check prices.
Asked when prices would cool down, Paswan said, "I am not an astrologer but it should hopefully come down by end of November or beginning December."
Paswan said the government had banned the export of raw and processed onions, imposed stock holding limits on traders besides offloading buffer stock at a cheaper rate of Rs 24.90/kg to provide relief to consumers.
That apart, efforts were being made to facilitate imports through private trade from Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. The Agriculture Ministry has also been asked to liberalise import norms, he added.
Paswan said much of the onions from the central buffer stock of 57,000 tonnes had been disposed of, while 25% of it was rotten due to short shelf life. Still, 1,525 tonnes is left in the central buffer stock.