While potato prices are soaring in the retail market in Saurashtra, onion prices too seem to be heading in the same direction as heavy rains in August has damaged Kharif crop and delayed harvest.
Onion prices have more than doubled over the past one month at Mahuva agriculture produce market committee (APMC), the biggest wholesale market of the bulbs in the state, as arrivals have remain more or less stable while fresh crop is yet to arrive.
The modal price of red onion in the Mahuva APMC in Bhavnagar was quoted Rs 1,725 per quintal on Monday. That was more than double as compared to Rs 768 quoted in the same market on August 4. In fact, the the highest quote on Monday was as high as Rs 2160, data available with the Mahuva APMC shows.
In Rajkot district’s Gondal APMC, the other big wholesale market of onion in Saurashtra, arrivals on Monday were 5384 quintals and modal price was Rs 1,305.
A normal weather may soften prices
Even as prices of onions are heading north in wholesale markets of Gujarat, they are much lower than levels seen in last December and this January. However, much ride on September-October weather. If the weather remains normal, and farmers are allowed to harvest whatever is left of the crop after damage caused by excessive August rain, prices may soften. But that will take a while and consumers will have to prepare for shelling out more for the seasoner and salads in short term.
“Due to very heavy rain in August in Saurashtra, the Kharif onion crop has been damaged and its arrival in the market has been delayed. Presently, only farmers who have holding capacity and stockists have onions and they are carting them to market in a staggered manner. As there is short-supply, just like potato prices, onion prices are also rising steadily,” Pravin Joshi, president of Mahuva APMC Commission Agents Association (MACAA), said.
Arrivals of the red onion, which is consumed fresh, have remained in the range of 3,500 quintal to 4,000 quintal per day in Mahuva APMC in recent weeks. “Usually, Kharif onion starts arriving by September and hit peak in October. But this year, the fresh harvest is yet to arrive in the market,” Joshi further said.
This is a relief to onion growers of Saurahstra after prices collapsed to around Rs 450 per quintal in May-June this year from the historic peak of Rs 10,500 in January, says Mahuva APMC president Ghanshyam Patel.
“Prices of almost all vegetables are high due to unfavourable weather conditions over the past one-and-a-half-month. Especially, onion crop in Karnataka has been damaged or harvest has been delayed due to very heavy rain,” said the chairman. Incidentally, potatoes are being sold at Rs 35 per kg in retail markets in Saurashtra. Other vegetables too are costly as the constant wet weather has affected crops, say farmers.
Farmers of Amreli, Junagadh, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Gir Somnath districts of Saurashtra grow onion in Kharif season. “This crop can’t withstand continuous wet weather. Therefore, the crop has been damaged. The extent of that damage will become clearer in coming weeks,” Patel added.
Joshi said that farmers who could not sell their produce during the lockdown are carting it to APMC now. “During the lockdown, only premium quality onion was attracting good price bids at auction on the yard of Mahuva APMC. Therefore, farmers whose produce was not that good were dissuaded to sell at that time. The current shortage has offered them a window. But as the quality is not that good, traders are not going to villages to directly purchase from farmers and instead are preferring to buy from the yard,” Joshi said.
Mahuva APMC secretary Vishal Pachani said they are taking all precautions on the yard to keep Covid-19 at bay. “We are distributing face masks for free among farmers. We got our staff tested for Covid-19 last month and all of them tested negative,” he said.