AGRA: After soaring tomato prices, its onions now. Over the past 10 days, wholesale prices of onions have risen by more than 50% in most parts of Uttar Pradesh. However, in Agra region, prices have not shot up as much as elsewhere in the state as the demand is being is met through old rabi stocks till supplies last, say city traders.
Traders have attributed the increase in price of the bulb to shortfall in supplies from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which have received deficit rainfall. Besides, they claimed that the traders and growers in Maharashtra have resorted to hoarding onions in the wake of the weak supply situation in neighbouring states, triggering a price spike.
Traders said normally kharif season onions arrive in the markets of Agra region by the first week of August. However, the process has been delayed this time. More arrivals of kharif stocks are expected to begin from September onwards. Till then, onion prices will continue to be high.
According to commission agents at Agra Mandi, around eight to 10 trucks of onion used to arrive every day. In the past one week, the number has reduced to half.
In the last two years, onion prices have never risen beyond Rs 8 a kg. For most of the time over the past 24 months, wholesale onion prices haves hovered between Rs 3 and Rs 5 a kg. "Due to a sudden increase in prices over the past two weeks, stocked onion is now selling at Rs 15 to 17 a kg whereas fresh produce costs Rs 22 to 27 a kg in the wholesale market. Retailers are selling onions between Rs 30 and Rs 45 a kg in city areas, which is double the rates two weeks ago," said a farm produce trader, Kafilluddin.
Farm merchant Amir Bhai said, "After implementation of Goods and Services tax (GST), transportation cost has increased. This is also one of the reasons behind sudden rise in onion prices. To ensure common welfare of farmers, traders and common people government must ban onion export and impose a limit on stockholding."
According to sources, the onion crop from kharif season of 2017-18 is also expected to be less as the area under cultivation is down by 30-40% in major onion producing states — Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra — due to less and late rains besides low prices at the time of sowing. Kharif produce accounts for 30-40% of the country's total production and the rest comes from rabi season.