Onion prices have dipped again in the wholesale markets with the bulb trading below Rs 1,000 per quintal. A bumper crop in Maharashtra as well as early arrival of rabi onions in the wholesale markets of states like Gujarat and Rajasthan led to a steep price correction which traders say is likely to remain for the rest of the season. On Wednesday, the average price of onions at Lasalagon’ wholesale market in Nashik was Rs 788 per quintal — one third of the price it fetched in January. Onion prices have been showing a downward trend since the beginning of March. In most wholesale markets, average traded price was below Rs 1,000 per quintal.
This is in sharp contrast to the price trend a few weeks back when prices were hovering between Rs 1,500-2,000 per quintal. Prices had crossed the Rs 3,000 mark in November, December and January which spiked the prices in the retail markets as well. The eight-month bull run, farmers had said, had come after almost a 15 month slump which saw farmers selling onions at throw away prices of Rs 300-5,00 quintals. The price slump is due a bumper summer or rabi crop which has started arriving in the markets. Maharashtra has reported around 3.5 lakh hectares under summer onion this year as against the 3 lakh hectares last year. Also onion crop area has increased in neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra accounts for almost 60 per cent of the summer crop.
Farmers normally store their produce in moisture and heat proof structures called Kanda chawl to dispose them of later in the season. Rabi onions normally feed the market from March till the arrival of the new kharif crop later in September.
Jaydutt Holkar, chairman of Lasalgaon’s wholesale market, said that the bumper arrivals have brought down prices. “Arrival is huge and thus prices have come down. We fear prices might go down further in view of the good crop expected,” he said.
Onion prices have recorded a correction at a time when the central government has announced a special initiative for the crop along with tomato and potato. Under Operation Green, the government wishes to re-construct the success in the dairy sector under Operation Flood. However, as prices come down, traders say exports have also taken a hit despite nil minimum export price (MEP). “There is no demand from the outside markets,” said Jagdish Apshunde, an exporter at Nashik’s wholesale market. Till November last year, the country had recorded 17,72, 254.31 quintals of onion export.