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Onion, tomato price shoot up: Why season is not the only reason to blame

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New Delhi, Sep 27: The retail prices of onions and tomatoes, a staple in most Indian households, have firmly stayed above ₹40 a kg in many parts of the country over the past few days. At a time when onion prices are ruling the market at Rs 70-80 per kg, the prices of tomato have seen a surge of around 70 per cent in Delhi.

The situation regarding the onion and tomato price hike is also bad in cities like Bengaluru and Chennai.

Onion, tomato price shoot up: Why season is not the only reason to blame

Last week, the average trading price in Lasalgaon's wholesale market increased by more than Rs 1,000 per quintal. The current wholesale rate of Rs 4,000 per quintal is the highest onion has seen in the last four years, The Indian Express has reported.

Onion price soar: What govt is doing?

According to data of the Price Monitoring Cell (PMC) of the Consumer Affairs department, the retail price of onion has increased by Rs 20-25 per kilo across the country in the last six months.

So what exactly might be the reason?

The spike in the price of onion and tomato comes ahead of Navratri and after the holy month of Shravan, when the consumption goes down. Lakhs of people in Maharashtra do no consume onions (and non-vegetarian food) in their food during these periods.

Heavy rain and subsequent flood in key producer states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are some of the key reasons why the prices of vegetables have been going up for past one week. Due to the excess rain this year, farmers could not harvest their crop in time, leading to an acute shortage of onion supply in the market.

The onion price has shot up to around Rs 80 per kilo in some places including Delhi, around Rs 60-70 per kilo in Bengaluru, Rs 60 in Vijayawada, around Rs 45 in Hyderabad and Chennai.

While in the case of tomatoes, in Delhi-NCR, it is being sold at Rs 40-Rs 60 per kg in retail stores since the last few days and it is expected that the prices might go up in the coming days as the festive season is nearing.

Apart from the national capital, tomato prices have also gone up drastically across the country. According to updates from the Central Consumer Affairs Department, onion price in Chandigarh was Rs 52 per kg on Wednesday.

What is the government doing?

The Centre has taken several measures to arrest the prices of onion in Delhi and other parts of the country. It is offloading onion from its buffer stock through agencies like Nafed and NCCF which are selling at around Rs 22/kg and state-run Mother Dairy at Rs 23.90 per kg in the national capital.

The state governments have been asked to boost supply in their states lifting central buffer stock. Some states like Delhi, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh have shown interest so far.

The centre has a buffer stock of 56,000 tonnes of onion, of which 16,000 tonnes has been offloaded so far. In Delhi, 200 tonnes a day is being offloaded.

Besides, the Centre has discouraged export of onion by increasing the minimum export price and withdrawing incentives. It is also cracking down on black marketeers.

What did Ram Vilas Paswan say?

Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday to people who were hoarding stock that the government had enough buffer stock. "I want to inform hoarders that we have a buffer stock of 50,000 tonnes. Affected states can boost their supply through agencies like Nafed and National Cooperative Consumers Federation Ltd." Nafed is the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. The government is offloading its buffer stock to combat the situation.

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