Agri Business

Onion farmers could still be making profits

Mumbai | Updated on November 10, 2017

ONION   -  Business Line

That farmers are losing money on their onion crop - now that its prices have crashed - is not quite true. Nor is it possible for traders to hoard the current season's crop for a very long time to manipulate the market, said Dr R.P. Gupta Director at the Nashik-based, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF).

NHRDF is the country's nodal agency for production and post-harvest technology, as well as for data pertaining to area, production, export, market arrivals and prices of onion, garlic and potato.

Prices of onion crashed by almost half when the wholesale market in Lasalgaon (the largest onion market in the country) opened on Monday after a three-day gap. The bulb which was traded at Rs 2,700 a quintal on January 21, crashed to 1,400 on January 24.

A day later on January 25 the modal price (the price at which most trades are done) fell further to Rs 1,250 a quintal.

“Prices are likely to fall even more, may be down to Rs 800 a quintal, as we expect more arrivals from the late kharif crop ,” said Mr Gupta.

He said farmers would still be making profits at that price. Of course, their profits would be much less than what it was till January 24 when prices crashed. “But one cannot say they have made losses,” he said.

The price fall will take some time to be reflected at the retail level, he said.

When the fall will show at the retail level depends on traders, he said. According to him, nobody and no agency in the country has any real control over the vegetables market, whether at the wholesale or retail level. However, onion arrivals from the kharif and late kharif crops cannot be hoarded for more than three or four days as the produce is damp and will sprout or rot after that.

“It is not possible during this season to hoard onions. The rabi onion which is harvested from March to June can be stored for a longer time as the hot weather at that time will dry out the vegetable and improve its shelf life.” There are three onion crops in the country. For the kharif crop, sowing is done around June and harvesting happens in November-December. The late kharif sowing months are October-November; harvesting happens from January to March. The rabi crop which accounts for 60 per cent of the onion production in the country, is sown towards the end of the year, and is harvested in the March-June period.

Unseasonal rain destroyed a large quantity of the first kharif crop, resulting in a phenomenal price rise in the recent months.

The expected production from the three harvests of the current crop year, which will end in June this year, is 13 million tonnes from 8.9 lakh hectares, said Dr Gupta.

Published on January 26, 2011

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