P. Muthuvel, a farmer in Kongarapalayam village in Sathyamangalam block, cultivated small onion on his two acre plot. Since he was sure that prices will be above ₹100 a kg, he chose to have small onion on the entire area. However, favourable climate and availability of water encouraged more farmers to go in for small onion and the farmers are selling the produce for less than ₹20 a kg in many places.
Farmers in the district said their profits had dropped significantly in the last one week. This is due to harvesting season at its peak. Small onion, which is a 70 to 80 day crop, is cultivated in over 1,100 acres in Kongarapalayam and sold in local markets and places such as Coimbatore and Tirupur. Severe drought last year led to steep rise in the onion price.
The farmers said that they earned reasonable profit last month which had started to drop this month. “Earlier, we sold it for more than ₹ 50 per kg. But due to more supply, traders purchase the onions from us for less than ₹ 20 a kg now,” they say.
Since most of the crops were harvested in the last one week, the price of onions dropped and is sold between ₹ 20 and ₹30 in retail markets from ₹ 150 or a few weeks ago. The farmers said that once the winter season ends and new crops are planted, the price of onion will shoot up again.
Deputy Director of Horticulture in Erode T. Tamil Selvi told The Hindu that despite storage facilities, farmers are selling the produce to earn quick profits leading to drop in the price. She said that price of other vegetables remained stable. In Erode district, small onion is grown on about 1,400 acres.
In Coimbatore, the wholesale price of small onion was between ₹ 20 and ₹ 23 a kg.
M. Rajendran, president of the Thyagi Kumaran Market Vegetable Merchants’ Association, said prices are expected to remain low for another couple of months. The city gets the onions from Erode and Salem districts and local farms. “If a trader got 1,000 sacks of onions a day when the prices were above ₹150 a kg, he is getting 5,000 sacks now. Availability of small onions are also up leading to piling of stock,” he said.
It is not just small onions, but most of the vegetables that have seen a sharp fall in prices in Coimbatore.
In fact, the wholesale price ranges between ₹5 and ₹15 a kg for most of the vegetables.