New Delhi: Amid rise in onion prices across the country, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a rather bizarre statement in the Parliament on Wednesday, stating that she doesn't consume much of the vegetable and hails from a family where it is not used.
"I don't eat much of onion-garlic. I come from such a family which doesn't have much to do with onion," Sitharaman said while responding to interruptions by some opposition members at a time when she was speaking on the onion crisis.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister also told the Lok Sabha that the central government is trying to end the onion crisis by implementing several measures. She said that the government has taken a host of measures, including imports, to deal with the rising prices of onions and there are several structural issues related to their storage which the government is trying to address.
"Steps are being taken other than procurement," she told Lok Sabha while replying to the debate on Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2019-20 where she also said export of onions have been banned and tender have been floated for its import.
"From 2014, I have been part of some group of ministers which monitors the ups and downs in onion market. Sometimes when there is a surplus of the crop, we have also facilitated by giving support to those people who want to import. I have overnight passed orders for helping with 5 to 7 per cent assistance for exporting," she said while adding that onion price surge was due to factors such as a reduction in the area of cultivation and production.
Prior to Sitharaman's address in the Lok Sabha, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule had raised the issue of NPAs and onion farmers.
"Why has the production of onion gone down? We export rice and milk and so many other products. Onion grower is a small farmer and he really needs to be protected," Sule had said.
Onion prices soared to Rs 140 per kg in various markets in West Bengal while it touched Rs 150 per kg in Hyderabad. Due to sky-rocketing price, onion theft has also been reported from various parts of the country. Just recently, a farmer in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur alleged that his onion crop worth Rs 30,000 was uprooted and stolen from his field by thieves.
Onion is being sold at Rs 100 per kg in most of the Indian cities.
Concerned by the rising prices of onion, the Centre on Monday asked the states to impose stock limits on traders and to ensure strict action against hoarding. In a review meeting with Committee of Secretaries on onion prices, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba directed the states to maintain considerable buffer stocks, impose stock limits on traders and to ensure strict action against hoarding.
(With agencies inputs)