Centre asks state to crack down on onion hoarders

The state government has been instructed to take stringent action against onion hoarders to improve supply at Lasalgaon wholesale market, where rates have touched almost Rs 60 per kg

New Delhi: Concerned over spiralling onion prices, the Centre yesterday asked the state government to take stringent action against hoarders to improve supply at Lasalgaon wholesale market in Nashik where rates have touched almost Rs 60 per kg.

A member of the Delhi Pradesh Mahila Congress uses onions as ornaments to protest against the price hike of the vegetable, outside the BJP head office at Ashok Road in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI
A member of the Delhi Pradesh Mahila Congress uses onions as ornaments to protest against the price hike of the vegetable, outside the BJP head office at Ashok Road in New Delhi yesterday. Pic/PTI

Lasalgaon, Asia’s biggest wholesale market for onion, normally sets the price trend for the rest of the country. The largest onion growing state of Maharashtra contributes 30 per cent to the country’s total output of 18.9 million tonnes of onion.

A similar direction has been issued to other state governments as well. “We have written to the Maharashtra Chief Secretary, expressing concern over rising prices. We have asked to send officials to Lasalgaon to check onion availability and take adequate measures against hoarders,” Consumer Affairs Secretary C Vishwanath told reporters.

Wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon have increased to about Rs 60 per kg as against Rs 15-Rs 16 per kg for the same period last year, revealed official data. Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan yesterday reviewed the onion prices issue and directed the officials of his Department as well as Agriculture Department to take “quick action” to bring prices under control.

Wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon have been rising unabated in the last few weeks due to lower arrival of the commodity into the mandis due to production shortage. Consequently, retail prices have risen sharply across the country and are currently as high as Rs 80 per kg.

To reign in the price rise, the Centre has asked MMTC to import onions and has also raised Minimum Export Price (MEP) of the commodity to $700 per tonne from $425 per tonne to restrict overseas sale. Total onion production is estimated at 189 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than 194 lakh tonnes, in previous year.

Rs 60 per kg
Wholesale rate of onions at Lasalgaon in Nashik

Rs 16 per kg
Wholesale price of onions for the same period last year

Rs 80 per kg
Retail price of onions

Meanwhile...

Thieves steal 2,000 kg onion in Nashik
Nashik: Following the theft of 700 kg of onion from a Mumbai shop, thieves have now decamped with about 2,000 kg of the pricey kitchen staple from the godown of a Nashik farmer.

Abasaheb Pawar, a farmer from Pimparkhed village in Nandgaon taluka, lodged a complaint on Sunday claiming that 20 quintals of onion stored in his ‘kanda chawl’ (storing place) was stolen, officials from Nandgaon Police said yesterday. A search operation has been launched to trace the onion and nab the thieves.

Onion import from Afghanistan picks up
Chandigarh: Import of onions from Afghanistan has picked up momentum and is likely to increase further, local traders said yesterday. The import is aimed at bringing down the shooting prices of onion across India.

“Against 2 to 4 trucks a day initially, now minimum 6 to 7 trucks carrying onion are crossing over to India via Attari-Wagah land route (in Punjab) from Afghanistan,” said Amritsar-based trader Anil Mehra.

Bangladesh force to check smuggling
Dhaka: As onion prices hit the roof in India, a wary Bangladesh has alerted its border force to prevent local onions from being smuggled to the neighbouring country.

Ministry of Commerce officials said they suspect local traders may take advantage of the crisis in India to make profit by smuggling local onions since the production cost here is less than its current price in India.

The Border Guard Bangladesh has been alerted to look out for smuggling activities along the border and prevent local onions from being smuggled out of the country, the ministry officials were quoted as saying by a local newspaper.

Commerce Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon said the ministry is monitoring the market to prevent hoarding, since the Indian MEP came into effect, the report said. He also met with the local onion traders and warned them of dire consequences in case of supply shortage.

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