New Delhi(dna): It’s lachrymose. Onion prices at Lasalgoan, Asia’s largest wholesale market, touched a record high on Tuesday. The highest price was Rs 46 per kg while the average was Rs 43 per kg at the Lasalgaon Agriculture Product Market Committee. Consequently, retail prices soared to Rs 80 per kg.
If what Nansahaeb Patil, chairman of APMC, Lasalgaon, told dna is any indication, there’s going to be no respite. In fact, a month on, the situation will only worsen, he warns.
“Currently, we get 5,000-6,000 quintals each day, when the demand is 14,000-15,000 quintals (1 quintal is 100 kg). Hailstorms and unseasonal rainfalls are the main villains. Because of that, the March crop is not sustainable and is easily perishable,” he says.
Imports are the next option. However, the experience on that front is also far from encouraging.
“The upper of layer of Pakistani onions has become blackened and they cannot be imported,” said Patil. Then, there’s Egypt. “Recently, traders from Mumbai called for two containers of onions from Egypt. But they could not pass the quality test and the containers had to be returned,” Patil said.
There’s a third option. Look at what happened there. The National Agriculture Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) issued tenders to import 10,000 tonnes of onions. Guess what? No one even bothered to fill up the tender forms.
“The onion market is volatile. Therefore, traders are wary of participating in the tender process,” said a NAFED source.
Tukaram Desale, a farmer from Dhule, said that monsoon this year has not been satisfactory and plantation has decreased significantly. “There is no sign that there will be good rainfall.” Nashik, Nagar, Dhule and Jalgaon, the main onion belt, has been badly affected.
“Forget about onion plantations, we are worried how to survive this crisis,” says Desale.
So, is there no solution in sight? “The government has decided to reissue the import tender for 10,000 tonnes of onions. We are hoping that this time there will be good trader participation. And that can salvage the situation,” the NAFED source said.