Onion prices have once again got the entire country in tears, and the spiraling prices because of supply crunch have also started showing adverse effects in the Sikkim market. As recently as till last week, Onion was selling for between Rs. 45-50 per Kg. As of 20 August, Thursday, the price has climbed to Rs. 60 at Lall Bazaar in Gangtok and the same is attested to in the rate board updated by government authorities at Lall Bazaar.
“We had bought Onions at Rs. 40 per kilo even during the weeklong National Highway disruption last month and this Rs. 60 price tag is back-breaking for me,” said a canteen owner whose fastest moving item is momo, for which onion is a necessary ingredient.“The supply has dried up. This is why the price has gone up,” explains a vegetable vendor at Lall Bazaar. He also informed that the suppliers in Siliguri are already speculating that the price could soar to Rs. 80 per Kg within a week or so.
While visiting some of the smaller retail outlets in and around Gangtok it was found that those having older stocks were still selling at Rs. 55 per Kg. The same price is managed by the SiMFED’s organic outlet situated at the first floor of the Lall Bazaar as they claimed that they are getting supplies from local farmers.
It is also found that the wholesalers of Lall Bazaar are selling Onion at Rs. 52-53 per Kg to those lifting the 60 kilo sacks.
Elsewhere in the country, the price has jumped about 50 per cent in a month. In Delhi, the wholesale price is now Rs 48-52 a kg; the retail one is Rs 80 a kg. At the benchmark wholesale market, at Lasalgaon (Nashik, Maharashtra), the model onion price is Rs 47.50 a kg; the retail market in that city is Rs 60-70. Stockists at the Pimpalgaon mandi (also in Nashik district) estimate that if the current trend continues, the price could hit Rs 70-80 a kg in the wholesale market and Rs 100 a kg in the retail market by the end of September.
According to the traders this is happening because of delayed sowing and harvesting due to adverse weather conditions this year.
As far as the Central Government is concerned, in order to contain the rise in prices of onion and ensure its increased availability, it has decided that MMTC will float a global tender for import of 10,000 MT of onion within ten days.
However, media reports have quoted experts as opining that even if the deadline is met, the landed cost would work out to Rs 33-34 a kg. The imported onion needs to dry in the sun to reduce its moisture and increase its shelf life. This process will reduce its average weight by at least 10 per cent. Considering transportation and handling, the break-even price would be around Rs 40 a kg. Even if the importer earns a profit of no more than Rs 5 a kg, the selling price would not be less than Rs 45 a kg in the wholesale market, not much of a difference from the prevailing level now in major markets.
A housewife at Lall Bazaar rightly said, “This is just a psychological ingredient, consuming it in bulk will neither make us healthy nor consuming less make ill. Buy it in such quantites as will balance your budget.”