New Delhi/Kanpur/Bhopal/Rajkot: A sharp hike in the price of onions has brought tears to the eyes of people.
Onions are now costing nearly 300 percent more this month than in the same month last year.
It is a staple ingredient in many Indian dishes, and can anger voters and can quickly become a political issue.
India is due to hold its general election within eight months.
Food inflation accelerated to a three-year high of 18.18 percent in August, government data released on September 17 showed, driving overall inflation to a higher-than-expected 6.1 percent.
The recent hikes in fuel prices also spurred the jump in the Wholesale Price Index.
Apart from the surge in the price of onions, other vegetables shot up by 77 percent. Eggs, meat and fish were up nearly 19 percent.
"The price of onions is increasing with each passing day and it is damaging our economic scenario. The common man has to think about various things during this time of inflation and I think the poor cannot afford to eat onions now," said Kishan Kumar, a resident of New Delhi on Thursday.
Onions were being sold for Rupees 70 to 80 per kilogram, a sharp rise from the recent prices that were at 60 per kilograms.
People in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, said that eating onions has now become a dream.
"We are facing a lot of difficulties sir. We have reduced our consumption of onions from 250 grams to 100 grams. We can just dream of eating onions, this is the situation right now," said Kuldeep Singh.
Late planting and disruptions in supplies of vegetables and onions due to heavy summer rains have stoked food inflation.
Not only consumers, but vegetable vendors are also facing a dip in sales due to this rise in price of onions.
"The problem is that since the prices of onions have gone up, only four to five kilograms of onions are being sold daily. The reason for this is that most of the onion has been exported out of the city, atleast 90 percent is exported out of the city. So it is affecting our livelihood too as we are not able to sell the potatoes as well," said Ramesh Kumar, a vegetable vendor in Bhopal.
Farmers are expecting food prices to start moderating from October onwards as supplies rise from crops planted after the much better monsoon season. However, heavy rainfall has resulted in flooding in some areas of the country making it difficult to get produce to market.
In Gujarat, housewives had to deal with unhappy children, as they were forced to use onions judiciously, while making their dishes.
"When we are cutting onions, tears come out of our eyes but today tears start flowing after hearing the price of onions. So, onions are one of the basic vegetables that we need in a kitchen, any dish we make onions are required in it. But today the prices have increased so much that we only keep 500 grams in our house," said Gayatri Ben, a housewife in Rajkot.
More price pressure could come in the form of a government plan to hike retail fuel prices by nearly 10 percent to ease its oil subsidy burden, which has risen after the rupee`s fall and on higher crude prices.