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Soaring prices of onion bring tears

Soaring prices of onion bring tears
Highlights

Heavy rains hit crop; prices may not ease for over a month Experts said there is a possibility of ban on...

Heavy rains hit crop; prices may not ease for over a month Experts said there is a possibility of ban on onion exports as the government is left with no option Vivek Bhoomi Hyderabad: Onion prices have soared in the past few weeks, with wholesale rate touching Rs 30 per kg at Malakpet Gunj, considered to be the biggest onion market in twin cities. Retail giants like Reliance Fresh are selling the essential commodity for Rs 31 per kg, whereas the neighborhood stores are selling onions for Rs 35-40 per kg. The onion market price is fixed through a bidding process which happens at Malakpet Gunj every morning at 8 am. The wholesale dealers, who are responsible for logistically procuring onions from farmers in major cultivation areas like Kurnool, Belgaum (Karnataka) and Madhya Pradesh, oversee the auction process daily. However, several middlemen take part in the auction. The auction starts at Rs 1,900 per quintal initially and goes on till highest bidding rate is fixed. For last one week, the highest bidding price has been hovering over Rs 2,900 to 3,000 per quintal, according to Varun Tyagi, a supervisor who oversees the auction at the Gunj. He says there has been a considerable shortage of onion supply from major cultivation areas due to heavy rains. However, the storage facility at the Gunj was found to be fully occupied with onion stocks, which gave an impression that there was some kind of hoarding going on. When the supervisor was questioned about this, he said "this is nothing. You should see when the supply is fair. There will be no place left to even walk." The price rise is not limited to Andhra Pradesh, though. Even in the biggest wholesale market for onions like Maharashtra, has a rate of Rs 25 per kg and the retail onion price in Delhi has touched Rs 30-40 as well. According to official data, India has exported 5, 11,616 tonnes of onions amounting Rs 776.47 crore in first quarter of the fiscal against 5, 17,274 tonnes in the year-ago period. Experts said there is a possibility of ban on onion exports as the government is left with no option to control shipments at present. Earlier, it used to tweak the minimum export price (MEP) of onion in the event of price rise. But the MEP has been scrapped since last year. The officials, however, said it would be a tough call for the government to ban shipments at a time when it is pushing for exports to reduce current account deficit. India exports 10% of its total onion output. Much of it is shipped to Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore. "Onion prices are expected to be under pressure till next month because new crop from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan is expected to hit market from October onwards," an official from Nasik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) said. Varun, the supervisor at Malakpet Gunj echoed the same, saying "we will have to wait for another month and a half, until the onion season begins in Kurnool." Price
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