New Delhi: Wholesale onion price at Lasalgoan in Maharashtra, Asia's biggest market for this kitchen staple, has shot up by 70 percent in just about a month -- hitting its highest level for the month of July in the past two decades.
Prices in July usually tend to be higher because the supply goes down and the onset of monsoon season also affects the onion quality.
The onion was being sold at Rs 25.50 per kg in Lasalgoan market today, while the retail prices are in the range of Rs 35-40 per kg here in the national capital. Lasalgoan accounts for a bulk of the supply in various parts of the country, including Delhi region.
The prices have shot up by 70 percent since June 27 when the government increased the minimum export price (MEP) for the commodity. Spiralling prices could further fuel the food inflation in the coming weeks.
As per the data maintained by the Nasik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), the average price at Lasalgaon stood at Rs 15 per kg last month.
A sharp increase is being seen in the retail markets in most parts of the country.
The prices in both wholesale and retail markets have been rising in recent weeks due to sluggish supply of good quality onion in the wake of the crop getting damaged in storage across major growing states, including Maharashtra.
Apprehending further increase in onion prices, the government has already increased MEP of the commodity to USD 425 per tonne and and extended by another year the ban on hoarding of the key kitchen staple beyond a prescribed limit.
The Centre is also planning to import onion, though in limited quantity, to boost the domestic availability.
Much of the Rabi (winter) onion crop is stored to meet the demand in lean period. But this year, most of the onion kept in storage is of poor quality as the Rabi crop got damaged due to unseasonal rains in early March.
According to agri-experts, high storage losses have reduced availability of onion in the market and put pressure on prices and this situation will continue till the arrival of new kharif crop from mid-September.
To check prices, the government had imported a small quantity of onion last year too. It had also eased fumigation norms for smooth shipment of onions.
The country's onion production is estimated to have declined to 189.23 lakh tonnes in the 2014-15 crop year (July-June), as against 194 lakh tonnes in the previous year, as per government data.
The country's onion exports declined to 10.86 lakh tonnes in the 2014-15 fiscal due to high MEP (minimum export price), as against 13.58 lakh tonnes in the previous year.