A team of officials from Union Agriculture Ministry and Consumer Affairs Ministry will be visiting Maharashtra and Karnataka next week to evaluate the kharif onion crop area, anticipated production, and market arrivals. Soaring onion prices in various regions are attributed to an anticipated decline in output.

The team will also take a stock of the late kharif onion sowing that is presently going on as well as status of Rabi-grown onion in these two States, official sources said.

“The visit is crucial as the Centre will have to take policy measures based on the report of the committee. Currently, a minimum export price (MEP) has been placed on onion, replacing the earlier export duty and if the committee finds the situation is serious, there may be a complete ban on export,” an expert said.

During the visit, the Central team will visit major production clusters, main onion markets and storage locations. It will also interact with different stakeholders to assess the situation, the sources said adding the team is likely to meet officers of agriculture and horticulture departments, too.

While the team will be in Nashik, Ahmednagar and Pune districts of Maharashtra during November 6-8, the schedule for Karnataka will be during November 8-10 in Bagalkote and Gadag.

To be headed by Subhas Chandra Meena, director in the Department of Consumer Affairs, the team will have Manoj, Pankaj Kumar and BK Prusty from Agriculture Ministry among others.

Co-operatives sales

Meanwhile, the Consumer Affairs Ministry on Saturday announced that Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets will sell the kitchen staple at a subsidised rate of ₹25/kg from Sunday in Delhi and surrounding areas of the national capital region to provide relief to consumers from rising onion prices. Kendriya Bhandar, a government retail co-operative, has started sale of the bulb through its outlets across Delhi-NCR from November 3.

Hyderabad Agricultural Cooperatives Association is also selling the subsidised onion in Telangana and other southern states.

So far, the limited sales were going on through outlets and mobile vans by co-operatives NCCF and Nafed since October. While Nafed has so far set up 329 retail points consisting of mobile vans and station outlets in 55 cities across 21 States, NCCF has set up 457 retail points in 54 cities in 20 States, the ministry said.

“The ministry has initiated an aggressive retail sale of onion from the buffer stock in a bid to provide relief to consumers from the recent increase in onion prices due to delay in the arrival of kharif crop,” the statement said.

Wholesale price of onion dropped to ₹3,650/quintal on November 3 from ₹4,800 on October 28 in Lasalgaon mandi in Maharashtra, the statement said adding retail prices are expected to decline going ahead.

But, official data of the ministry show that the all India average price of onion rose 1 per cent to ₹4,954.68/quintal on Saturday from ₹4,893.35 on Friday. The retail prices, too, increased to ₹60.3/kg from ₹59.56 in a day. In most of the States, the average price has surged 80-100 per cent in a month.

The buffer stock capacity has been raised to 7 lakh tonnes (lt) this year from 2.5 lt in 2022-23 and 5.06 lt of onion has already been procured so far, since April.