After a brief lull, wholesale onion prices might go for a spin again after Turkey, a major import destination for India, has decided to put brakes on exports of the bulb from its shores.
Traders from various wholesale markets in the district are now expecting a 10 to 15 per cent rise in wholesale prices of onions, which will settle once domestic arrivals pick up later. Since the start of the onion crisis, Indian traders have started importing mainly from Turkey and Egypt, with other countries like China being roped in. Provisional data up to October shows that in this fiscal year (April to March, 2019-20), India imported 7,070 tonnes of the bulb, of which 6,308 tonnes were imported. As demand for imported onions increased, prices in the countries of origin also spiked, which saw these onions failing to make much impact in domestic markets. Traders said Turkey accounted for around 50 per cent of all imports, which landed in India.
Suresh Deshmukh, a commission agent operating in Dindori’s wholesale market in Nashik district, said the government of Turkey had banned exports as onion prices had sky-rocketed there. “They have done what India did to control the domestic prices there,” he said. The central government had banned exports from India in September to control domestic prices.
This ban, Deshmukh and other traders said, might push the prices up in the near future, but a steep rise has been ruled out by many. Kunal Korpe, an onion trader operating out of Pune’s wholesale market, said prices of imported onions have corrected from Rs 70-80 per kg to the present rate of Rs 50-60 per kg. “This correction is mainly because of the higher demand for the local produce, whose arrivals have improved,” he said.
Korpe foresaw another fall in prices of imported onions as around 4,500 tonnes are expected to arrive this Friday. The bulb, at present, is trading at around Rs 5,000 per quintal at most wholesale markets in Nashik, while retail prices continue to be around Rs 100 per kg. Meanwhile, rabi sowing across the country has seen a steep jump, which points to a bumper crop post March. Data by the Ministry of Agriculture shows that by the end of November, 2.78 lakh hectares of area had come under onion transplantation, as against the 2.31 lakh hectares of last season.
Better prices have seen farmers going for onions over the rabi crop, but trade sources have pointed out that this will lead to prices collapsing once the crop hits the markets.
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