With onion prices skyrocketing in many parts of the country, including the Capital where the kitchen staple is retailing at over Rs70 per kg, the Centre on Wednesday said it was taking concrete steps to boost supplies.
While urging the Delhi government to procure onions from NAFED and sell them through a Public Distribution System in the short term, Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said there would be a correction in about a week, when fresh kharif arrivals came to the state from neighbouring Rajasthan.
The ministry has asked the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) to procure 10,000 tonnes of onions from Maharashtra, where they are selling at around Rs 32 per kg.
“If we add Rs 3-5 per kg as transportation cost from other states, onions can be sold at around Rs 35. Onion is available at Rs 32-35 per kg in Nashik (Maharashtra), Rs 28-32 in Alwar (Rajasthan), Rs 30 in Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and at Rs28 per kg in Solapur (Maharashtra),” Paswan said after meeting when senior officials from the agriculture ministry, NAFED and the Safal chain of outlets.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government on Wednesday proposed that the Centre create a ‘Price Stabilisation Fund’ (PSF) to distribute onions at cheaper rates.
“The Delhi government has requested the Centre to provide financial assistance under PSF. If this gets approved, the Delhi government will be able to provide onions at affordable rates,” an official from the state food and supplies department said.
The spike in retail prices has come despite export restrictions announced by the Centre last week, when a minimum export price of US$ 850 was imposed.
Onion prices are higher this year due to a sharp drop in planting of the summer crop (Kharif 2017-18) which fell 29% year on year. The lower planting has led to lower arrivals in wholesale markets, according to data from the National Horticulture Board, which shows that arrivals in October were 17% lower year on year.