New Delhi: The Centre has procured 2,300 tonnes of onions directly from farmers this year so far to build buffer stock to be utilised for market intervention in the event of price rise during a lean season.
The buffer stock of onion is being created using the Rs 900-crore Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF). The objective of this
fund is to control price volatility, thereby protecting interest of farmers and consumers. The fund is being used for creating buffer stock of pulses and potato also.
"We are aiming to buy 15,000 tons of onion this year. So far, nodal agencies Nafed and SFAC have procured 1,500 tonnes and 800 tonnes, respectively," Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters.
The storage quality onion has been purchased directly from farmers in the price range of Rs 8.50-9 per kg. The stock would be kept at Lasalgoan, he said.
With onion prices ruling lower at Rs 2-3 per kg in Maharashtra, these two agencies are buying onion in the state to ensure support price to onion growers, he said adding that onion will also be procured from other growing states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The arrival of rabi (winter) crop of onion has began and and cooperative firm NAFED will buy in total 10,000 tonnes, while the Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) will procure 5,000 tonnes.
On storage of onion, Paswan said that onion procured from Maharashtra is being stored at Nasik and the nodal agencies have been asked to explore hiring of godowns in other states and even state governments have been told in this regard.
A team has been sent to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to explore godowns for storage of onions, he added.
Last year, the government procured 8,000 tonnes of onion but only after retail prices went through the roof.
This time, the Consumer Affairs Ministry has been asked to prepare timely import plans for pulses and onions. It has also been asked to intervene in the market on time so that consumers are not affected by price rise.
Onion production is estimated to be increase to 20.33 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 18.92 million tonnes in the previous year, as per the Agriculture Ministry data.
At present, retail price of onion is ruling at Rs 20 per kg in the national capital. Normally, prices flare up during August-September period.