New Delhi, Aug 19: As sharp rise in onion prices continue to pinch consumers badly, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said he would not be able to say when the prices would ease as rains have hit supplies from key growing states.
Onions prices are still ruling at an unaffordable level, though rates have started softening both in the wholesale and retail markets across the country following government measures like allowing cooperative Nafed to import onions.
In the national capital, retail prices have come down to Rs 60/kg today from Rs 80/kg last week, while wholesale prices at Lasalgoan in Nashik district of Maharashtra have fallen to Rs 35.65/kg now from the high of Rs 55/kg. Asked when onion prices would cool down, Pawar said," I don't know about prices but I know about the crop condition. The crop in Nashik has been affected due to drought. As on today, the overall crop condition is good."
Arrivals are expected any time from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan but "these states are facing logistics problem due to rains", he told reporters on the sidelines of an ICAR event.
Earlier, the Minister had said the rise in onion prices was a "temporary situation" and prices would cool down once arrival begins from the key growing states. To control rising prices, the government had imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of USD 650 per tonne and had directed cooperative major NAFED to import onions.
Onion prices are likely to be under pressure till October when the new crop is expected to hit the market. India has exported 5,11,616 tonnes of onion amounting to Rs 776.47 crore in the first quarter of this fiscal against 5,17,274 tonnes in the year-ago period, as per official data.
According to the Nashik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), the area under onion crop is down by 10 per cent from 10.87 lakh hectares this year.