With the arrival of the late kharif crop in mandis,onion prices have dropped sharply across the country in the last one week. This has brought much-needed relief to consumers reeling under high prices for the last few months.
Traders said prices would continue to fall if the government does not allow exports by reducing the minimum export price (MEP) to a more realistic level.
A trader from Nashik,the hub of the country’s onion trade,told FE that wholesale prices had dropped to R1,400 per quintal on Monday from R3,500 per quintal a month ago.
The Nashik-based National Horticultural Research and Foundation (NHDRF) data say that whole sale prices had dropped to R2,331 per quintal in Delhi on Monday against R5,000 per quintal a month ago.
Huge late kharif arrivals of onion from Gujarat,Rajasthan,Madhya Pradesh,Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in the last two weeks have pulled down prices, CB Holkar,board member,Nafed,and a farm leader from Nashik,said.
According to the consumer affairs ministry data,retail onion prices have dropped across key cities. Prices are around R35-R45 per kg,which is a sharp drop from the R60-R80 per kg a month ago.
If the government does not reduce MEP,prices are expected to fall further adversely impacting farmers’ income, an official with NHDRF said.
Last month,the government had hiked onion MEP to $ 1,150 per tonne from $ 900 per tonne to curb shipments of the critical agricultural commodity.
Since September 19,when the government raised the MEP to $900 per tonne from the $650 per tonne fixed on August 14,shipments have dropped sharply.
According to cooperative major Nafed,onion exports from the country dropped from 1.65 lakh tonne in April to only 19,218 tonne in September 2013.
Trade sources said shipments virtually came to a halt in the month of October as the MEP was higher than prevailing global prices.
The total value of onion exports during April-September 2013 was more than R1,450 crore (7.16 lakh tonne by volume). India,the second-largest onion producer in the world,had shipped 1.8 million tonne of the key vegetable,worth R2,294 crore,in 2012-13.