New Delhi, Aug 23: As onion prices go through the roof, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Singh Badal has got an idea -- process this key kitchen staple into powder and paste forms when prices are low and save it for a rainy day.
Badal feels onion prices follow a cyclical pattern and rise during monsoons, and therefore, consumers can be saved from high prices through large-scale processing of this perishable commodity.
Wholesale prices of onion, which is widely used in Indian households, have risen to close to Rs 60 per kg while it is already selling around Rs 80 per kg in retail markets.
"Onion prices usually rise in the rainy season. This problem can be addressed by processing onions at a time when prices are usually less... We can dehydrate onions and convert it into powder and paste forms," Badal told PTI.
The idea comes at a time when prices of onions have risen unabated in the past few weeks. Wholesale onion prices touched Rs 57 per kg at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra, Asia's biggest onion market, which could further spike retail prices in coming days.
"Processing can help in mitigating the impact of the price rise in vegetables like onions and others," the Minister said, while adding that the processed products can be provided at reasonable prices.
"Today, we process only two per cent of total perishables, that is all fruits and vegetables. So, thousands of crores can be saved by reducing the wastage of these perishables by processing them," Badal added.
She further said the Food Processing Ministry is working on ways to make small food park projects more feasible.
"We are working on making small food parks more feasible. So, in areas where onions are produced, small processing units can be set up. For that, a company doesn't need 50 acres," Badal said.
The government may also provide subsidy of Rs 1 crore per acre, she added.
Ludhiana-based Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) has also advised people to go for dehydrated onions whenever onion prices soar.
CIPHET also provides training to farmers and entrepreneurs in converting onions into dried form and also in the form of flakes and powder.