Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today warned hoarders and black marketers against stocking onions to further escalate its prices as the vegetable supply remained limited due to recent floods in main-growing states like Maharashtra and Karnataka.
"I want to inform hoarders that we have a buffer stock of 50,000 tonne. Affected states can boost their supply through agencies like Nafed and National Cooperative Consumers," Mr Paswan said, assuring that the situation will be brought under control.
Onion prices have gradually increased in the last one month due to supply disruption from flood-hit onion-growing states like Maharashtra. Last week's rainfall has further affected the supply, due to which onion prices have surged up to Rs 70-80 per kg in the national capital and other parts of the country, news agency PTI reported.
According to a report by news agency IANS, the vegetable is selling costlier than apples at wholesale markets in the national capital.
The state governments have been asked to boost supply in their states lifting central buffer stock, Mr Paswan said.
"The situation in Maharashtra is very bad. Transportation is not there. 50,000 tonnes buffer stock we have. 15,000 tonnes are out. 35,000 tonnes we still have. All states government can buy from us at reasonable price to meet the demands," he said.
Some states like Delhi, Tripura and Andhra Pradesh have shown interest so far, he added. "Delhi government has come forward and they are selling at Rs 23-24 per kg. Tripura chief minister also called," Mr Paswan said.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar also assured that onion prices will calm down in the next few days with supply being boosted through agencies like Nafed. "At times, consumers have to pay high price for farm items; and at times, farmers get less price for their produce. Our role is to balance this. We are aware of it and are taking several measures," he said.
In a bid to restrict onion export, the government has increased the minimum export price and withdrew incentives on the vegetable.
The prices of the vegetable shot up across the country last week due to supply shortage from major onion growing states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. The reduce supply was attributed to the recent floods in these regions.
Onion was quoted 25 per cent higher last week at Delhi's Azadpur Mandi, a major market of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). Several other markets in the country too witnessed a steep rise in onion prices.
As per the data maintained by consumer affairs ministry, retail onion prices stand at Rs. 57/kg in Delhi, Rs. 56/kg in Mumbai, Rs. 48/kg in Kolkata, Rs. 34/kg in Chennai.
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