Amid soaring onion prices bringing tears to consumers, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today termed the rise in its rates as a ‘temporary phenomenon’ and said supply would improve in the coming days.

Wholesale prices of onion at Lasalgaon in Nasik, Asia’s largest onion market, have increased more than five-fold to Rs 20.50 per kg today from Rs 3.55 per kg in the year-ago period, according to Government data. A similar increase is seen in retail prices across the country.

“Prices have hardened as the onion area in Maharashtra, the major growing State, has been affected due to drought. Rise in prices is a temporary phenomenon,” Pawar told PTI.

Stating that onion is grown in areas dependent on rains, the Minister said the onion area in drought-hit States such as Maharashtra has been affected but overall production would be sufficient to meet the domestic demand.

“I had visited the key onion areas yesterday, the crop from other parts of the States is good and availability will improve in the coming weeks,” he said.

According to the Nasik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), the area under onion crop is down by 10 per cent from 10.87 lakh hectares this year.

NHRDF Director R. P. Gupta said: “Prices of onion are rising in anticipation of a drop in output. But we expect overall production to be the same at last year’s level of 174 lakh tonnes. Productivity is expected to be higher and there will not be a shortage of supply.”

According to the official data, retail prices of onion have increased to Rs 28 per kg now from Rs 13 a kg in the year-ago period in most parts of the country.

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat are the top three onion growing States which have suffered drought.

Last year, onion production in India stood at 174 lakh tonnes.

(This article was published on January 30, 2013)
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