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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Maharashtra: Sudden rise in onion prices as arrivals dip in wholesale markets

Rise in wholesale and retail prices in onion almost throughout 2020 as a supply side dip kept markets high.

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune |
February 10, 2021 12:29:36 am
Prices, which were at the level of Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,500 per quintal in January, have since climbed between Rs 3,100 to Rs 3,500. (Express Photo by Shashi Ghosh)

Days before the January Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers are released, a sudden increase in onion prices threatens to undo the cooling reported in food inflation in December. Across wholesale markets in the onion hub of Nashik, the average traded price of the bulb has increased by around 20 to 25 per cent with traders not ruling out any quick cooling.

Rise in wholesale and retail prices in onion almost throughout 2020 as a supply side dip kept markets high. Heavy rains in Karnataka took a toll on the standing crop in the state leaving stored onions in Maharashtra to feed markets till about November-December.

The government banned exports in September due to price escalation before Bihar elections, allowing for free imports. After repeated follow-up, the export ban was lifted a month ago.

At Lasalgaon’s wholesale market in Niphad taluka of Nashik, the average traded price of the bulb reported a steady rise since January. Prices, which were at the level of Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,500 per quintal in January, have since climbed between Rs 3,100 to Rs 3,500.

Suvarna Jagtap, chairman of the market, said this was mainly due to a dip in the south Indian markets where the kharif crop faced the vagaries of heavy rain.

“Arrivals in Lasalgaon is normal but there is a supply dip in the country due to which prices have shot up,” he said.

The kharif (planted June-July and harvested after November-December) and late kharif (planted in August-October and harvested after December) are, at present, coming to the market but traders and farmers complain of extensive crop damage due to rains.

Suresh Deshmukh, a commission agent operating out of Dinodri market in Nashik, said there had been a 20 to 25 per cent dip in productivity this year. “Instead of 120 to 140 quintals an acre, farmers are reporting yields of just 60 to 100 per quintal an acre,” he said.

Deshmukh said the present price rise is likely to continue for at least 10 to 15 days. “We expect some cooling once the crop from Pune and its nearby regions start hitting the market. But we feel prices are not going to come down below Rs 3,000-mark anytime soon,” he said.

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