New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said state governments did not heed Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar`s advice some months ago to store onions which would have helped in maintaining more stable prices of the kitchen staple.
"As Sharad Pawar pointed out that some months ago he as Agriculture Minister wrote to all state governments to arrange for storage of onions and yet no state government took advantage of that.
"If they had taken advantage of that in the lean season, prices would have been more stable."
Singh further said: "Onion prices are prices which rise and fall depending upon the seasonal change in production. No central government can say that it can control all prices."
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar in a written reply informed Rajya Sabha that monthly wholesale price index (WPI) of vegetables, including onions, rose from 191 in January this year to 337.3 in July, while onion WPI increased from 340 in January 2013 to 442.6 in July 2013.
"Reasons for fluctuations in prices include seasonality of production, perishable nature of these commodities and mismatch in localised production and demand," he added.
To ensure adequate availability of onion, government has imposed a minimum export price of USD 650 per tonne, Anwar said adding that agri-cooperative NAFED has been asked to import onions.
Besides, NAFED is also procuring onions from mandis to supply to consumers through its retail outlets and to state marketing and supply federations, Anwar said.
Wholesale prices of onions are hovering in the range of Rs 1,900-4,035 per quintal at Lasalgaon, India`s biggest wholesale mandi for the vegetable.