Thanks to an increase in onion production and improved storage facilities at farmer level, prices for the staple vegetable, a political hot potato, are unlikely to see big swings this year. And if things go as planned by policymakers, the seasonal spike in onion prices in various pockets of the country in October-November could be a thing of the past, according to official sources.
Currently, the benchmark onion price in Lasalgaon, Maharashtra, is Rs 1,220/cwt, down 20% from a year ago, and well below the seasonal average of the last three years of 2 Rs 354/quintal.
“Storage of rabi onion at farm level has improved over the past two years while production has increased,” former Manmard (Maharashtra) mandi board director FE Balasaheb Misal told FE Balasaheb Misal and onion grower.
Misal said that three years ago mandi prices rose to Rs 3,000 per quintal in October, which is currently between Rs 1,100 and 1,200 quintal in the main producing states. He said prices are expected to stabilize at the current level as the kharif crop will enter the market by the end of October.
The Rabi onion harvested from April to June accounts for about 65% of the country’s onion production and meets consumer demand until the kharif crop is harvested in October-November. Onions harvested by Kharif are not stored due to higher moisture content, thus entering the market directly.
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“Onion prices are not seeing a big rise in October or November like a few years ago as production increased alongside storage infrastructure,” said Uday Devlankar, former adviser to Maharashtra’s agricultural price commission. and farmer.
The modal retail price of onion is currently around Rs 20/kg, down from Rs 30/kg a year ago. In December 2019, retail prices for onions reached Rs 100 per kg in many cities, which resulted in the government banning the export of onions.
India exported 1.4 million tonnes (MT) of onions worth Rs 1301 crore in 2021-22. Bangladesh and Malaysia held 46% and 12% of total onion exports respectively in the last fiscal year.
An official said that since January 2021, there has been no ban on onion exports like there were a few years ago.
In August 2022; Onion price inflation fell by 18.48% over the year.
The negative onion inflation in August 2022 was due to an exceptional production of 31.7 MT during the 2021-22 campaign (July-June), compared to 26.6 MT in 2020-21.
The government had purchased 0.25 MT of onions for the buffer stock in 2022-23 against 0.2 MT purchased the previous year.
The onion stock was purchased through the NAFED Farmers Cooperative from the farmers through the Farmer Producer Organizations in the rabi onion producing states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
“Price stabilization through buffer stocks serves the dual purpose of providing remunerative prices to onion growers and increasing the availability of onions at affordable prices for consumers,” said a Ministry of Health memo. Consumption.
An official said open market releases of onions from buffer stocks are underway in these states/cities, especially in the northeastern states where prices are showing an increase from the previous month.
To address post-harvest losses of onions, including losses resulting from inefficient storage and processing, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs announced a big challenge for the development of “primary processing technologies, storage and valorization of onions”.