OVER A month after the central government decided to slash the minimum export price (MEP) of onion to zero, prices of the bulb have started hitting rock bottom across major market yards in the state. Increased arrival and limited avenues for sales has pushed the prices down. Market watchers say it would continue to remain so for the next fortnight or so.
On Saturday, the modal price fetched by the bulb at the Lasalgaon market – the largest onion market in the state – was Rs 1100 per quintal. A total of 20,940 quintals of onions arrived at the market. A year ago on January 30, 2015, the modal price at Lasalgaon was Rs 1375 per quintal and 16,269 quintals arrived at the market.
Manmad, another major onion market in Nashik district, saw 12,000 quintals of onions arriving and the modal price of the commodity was Rs 950 per quintal. The market at Manmad a year back had seen 11,472 quintals of onions arrive and the modal price of the bulb was Rs 1275 per quintal. In accordance with the trend at the wholesale markets, the retail markets have also seen a price correction of onion.
Vishnu Salve, president of the Pimpri Vegetable Market, said the price of onion over the last few weeks had been between Rs 10-15 per kg. “The arrival has increased, so prices have fallen,” he said.
The dip in the prices of onion comes at a time when the arrival of the late kharif crop is in full swing across market committees in the state and the country. Harvested between December and January, the late kharif crop feeds the market till the arrival of the rabi onion in March – April. This year, the state has seen a record sowing of onion on over 3 lakh hectares and the productivity is also supposed to be record breaking.
Last month, the central government had decided to reduce the Minimum Export Price (MEP) of onions to zero to stop the price slide. December had seen the MEP being corrected twice before that. The central government had reduced the MEP to $400.
However, the price slide now shows that slashing of MEP to 0 has no effect on the market. Nanasaheb Patil, chairman of the Lasalgaon Market committee, said that the government’s decision came too late. “There were reports of record sowing and a bumper crop was expected. MEP should have been reduced right at the start of the season. With arrival slated to remain high over the next fortnight, we do not expect any price rise in the markets,” he said. Patil also said that the size of area of sowing rabi onions had increased. In Ahmednagar, Patil said, many farmers had decided to grow onions instead of cane. “Water being a scarce commodity, onion cultivation has more appeal for farmers than cane. The summer crop of onion would be good this time,” he said.