With 3,000 tonnes of imported onion entering the market over the next fortnight, the price should start cooling off. Soon after, the new crop of onions will arrive, further reducing prices.
With onion being sold in some metros like Hyderabad, Chennai and some places in New Delhi at Rs 100 a kg, the price of the kitchen staple may have peaked.
According to market players, with around 3,000 tonnes of imported onion entering the market over the next fortnight, amid marginally liberalised import norms, the price of the commodity should start cooling off.
Soon after, the new crop of onions will arrive, further reducing the prices.
Data from the country’s various retail market, compiled by the National Horticulture Board, show that the onion price was quoted at as much as Rs 100 a kg in some markets like Hyderabad earlier this week, while it was sold for Rs 90 a kg (more for better quality) in New Delhi.
The retail price was Rs 90-100 in Chennai, and Rs 80-90 per kg in other major cities of South India.
The prices in major wholesale markets in Maharashtra were at their highest on Monday, with onion being sold at Rs 55 in Lasalgaon near Nasik.
That had a spiralling effect on consuming centres, leading to a soaring of prices in retail markets.
However, the Lasalgaon price moderated in the following days - to Rs 42 a kg on Thursday - according to data from the National Horticulture Research & Development Foundation.
Ajit Shah, a horticulture commodity veteran and also the president of the Horticulture Exporters Association, said: “Prices now seem to have peaked and imported onion will start arriving soon. Local prices should start falling thereon.”
In the past three months, onion prices have almost quadruplicated in most parts of the country.
The reason was that a late monsoon impacted sowing and crop arrival, creating a shortage in the market.
The government took measures to tame prices, including a ban on exports and imposition of a direct nationwide stock limit.
On Wednesday, the government tweaked its norms to allow more onion imports.
‘Fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003,’ has been relaxed for onion imports till November 30, subject to certain conditions.
Importers have also sought a relaxation in deceleration norms which are yet to be accepted.
However, even with the relaxations given, 3,000 tonnes of onion is expected to arrive in the next 15 days.
After that, onion from the fresh Maharashtra crop will arrive in the market.
Trade sources said, with imported onion coming in, traders hoarding within or beyond permissible limits would also start bringing their stock to the market, further bringing down the prices.
Even South India states are working on increasing supplies to arrest the rise in prices.
The wholesale onion price in Tamil Nadu’s Koyambedu market was around Rs 80 a kg earlier this week, leading to a retail price range of Rs 90-100 a kg.
The state government sent a team to Nasik in Maharashtra to buy onion as part of its plan to control prices and regulate the quality of onions.
The onion so procured is to be sold through co-operative societies.
Tamil Nadu’s minister for cooperation, Sellur K Raju, attributed the shortage of onion to heavy rains in the main producing centres of Maharashtra (Nashik), besides Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
The state government said a special committee led by civil supplies commissioners had been constituted to keep a check in every district.
Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters