New Delhi: Onion prices at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra - Asia's biggest wholesale market for onions - on Friday touched Rs 54 per kg, the highest so far this year, due to tight supply of the crop.
In the price-sensitive Delhi market and some other parts of the country, retail onion price has shot up to Rs 80 per kg. Further spike in prices is expected both in wholesale and retail markets as the tight supply situation would continue in the wake of likely fall in kharif production and delay in arrival of the fresh crop.
As per the data maintained by the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), the wholesale onion price at Lasalgaon increased to Rs 54 per kg today from Rs 52 per kg on Thursday.
The current wholesale price is higher than the average rate of Rs 41 per kg and Rs 15 per kg that prevailed in August 2013 and 2014, respectively. "Prices are rising day by day due to decline in onion stocks. Adding to the supply worries is that this year's kharif output is also expected to be lower in key growing states due to deficit rains," NHRDF Director R P Gupta said.
There is deficit rains in most parts of Maharashtra, north interior Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which has caused delay in planting of kharif onion, he said. "This means, the supply situation would remain under pressure as arrival of fresh crop is expected to be delayed, which may put further pressure on prices," he added.
Kharif onion is mostly grown in rainfed areas. As per the Met Department, there is 46 per cent rainfall deficiency in Marathwada and 36 per cent deficit in Madhya Maharashtra. Similarly, there is a 44 per cent rainfall deficit in north interior Karnataka and 32 per cent shortfall in Rayalseema of Andhra Pardesh.
Asked if there was hoarding of onion stock, Nasik District supply officer G M Gadikar said, "It is difficult to say if farmers are hoarding the stock. Prices are rising because there is limited supply of onion in mandis."
According to NHRDF, harvesting of early kharif onion in parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has begun but the arrival quantity is not much. Currently, stored rabi onion stocks in the country has come down to 14 lakh tonnes from 28 lakh tonnes in July. Total onion production is estimated to be at 189 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than 194 lakh tonnes, a year ago.