After making consumers cry over the past couple of weeks, onion prices in wholesale markets across the country have begun to ease on

After making consumers cry over the past couple of weeks, onion prices in wholesale markets across the country have begun to ease on improved supplies. The all-India average, or modal wholesale price, dipped 16 per cent the past week.

However, this may not give immediate respite to consumers as the impact of the decline in wholesale prices will take a couple of weeks to reach retail markets.

Wholesale prices dip

At Lasalgaon, the country’s largest onion market, the average or modal prices declined to Rs 3,250 a quintal on Monday, down 30 per cent from the peak Rs 4,700 recorded on August 14.

Similarly, in Pimpalgaon, another large wholesale market in Maharashtra’s onion belt, the average prices declined 33 per cent the past week.

In Delhi, onions in the retail markets traded over Rs 60 a kg on Monday.

“Wholesale prices have begun to decline in the main markets and we expect the supplies to normalise by September 15, with arrivals expected from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan,” said Pankaj Agarwalla, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

Onion prices had more than quadrupled in the past one month after supplies were hit by excess rains.

Prices had touched as high as Rs 100 a kg in retail markets across the country, forcing the Government to intervene.

State measures

State governments of Delhi and Tamil Nadu, for instance, stepped in to ease prices by directly procuring from farmers and supplying to consumers in big cities, Agarwalla said.

Last week, the Centre had the minimum export price (MEP) raised to $650 and relaxed some norms to allow more imports from countries such as China and Iran. However, figures on the quantum of onion imports were not available.

New arrivals

Earlier on Monday, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said onion arrivals from Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had faced logistical issues with rains hampering the movement of the commodity.

“The crop in Nashik has been affected due to drought. As on today, the overall crop condition is good,” Pawar told reporters after unveiling the statue of Nobel Laureate Norman E.Borlaug at the Indian Council of Agriculture Research campus here.

vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 19, 2013)
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