Govt moves fail to bring down onion prices from Rs70-80/kg levels

Retail prices of onion continued to remain high at Rs70-80 per kg on Wednesday in the national capital and other parts of the country despite government measures to boost supply of the key kitchen staple.

As per data available with the consumer affairs ministry, retail onion price was ruling at Rs 60/kg in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow. It was being sold at Rs58/kg in Mumbai and Rs42/kg in Chennai. In Kanpur, onion prices were at Rs70/kg and at Rs80/kg in Port Blair. 
However, trade data showed retail onion prices ruling in the range of Rs 70-80 a kg in most parts of the country, depending on quality and region.
Onion prices have been on the rise for the last one month due to supply disruption from flood-affected producing states like Maharasthra. 
The central government on Tuesday announced certain measures to curb a spurt in the prices of onions, after retail prices of the widely consumed commodity shot up more than five-fold to levels around Rs80 per kg.
The centre has asked state governments to utilise a stock of 35,000 tonnes available with the central government for direct retailing to ease the pressure on prices. Communication in this regard was sent to the state governments asking them to indicate their requirement from the central buffer. 
A government release said only five states, namely, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Tripura and Odisha have demanded onions from this stock.
NAFED, which holds the central buffer on behalf of union government has been directed to distribute onions in Delhi through stores of Safal, Mother Dairy, NCCF and its own out lets at a fixed rate of not more than Rs24 per kg. The central government also offered the Delhi government, onions from its buffer stocks for direct retailing through its channels at similar rates. This would improve the total number of distribution centres across Delhi to about 700 outlets.
The Kharif crop of onion from Karnataka has already started arriving in the market and this will ease the pressure on supply from Maharashtra as well as prices in adjoining regions.
There is sufficient stock of onions in Maharashtra to meet the current demand. However, supplies are seemingly being restrained to increase prices. The centre said it is taking all measures to improve supplies, including from central buffer, to mitigate any such shortfall in availability and will also consider imposing stock limit if prices do not moderate on account of speculative behaviour of traders.
Another central PSU MMTC has also been directed to float a tender for import of onions to meet any short fall in availability.
NAFED has been directed to be in preparedness for meeting any contingencies during the ensuing festive season and move sufficient stock in advance to places of consumption and distribution to ensure that supply remains unhindered.
The centre also has taken up the issue of reported export of onions below minimum export price to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and said such exports will be immediately stopped and strict action initiated against those who are found to be violating government regulations.