Onion prices soar up to Rs165/kg; the government says that imported onions will arrive before January 20

NEW DELHI: Does not show signs of cooling, retail onion prices They have continued spiraling, reaching Rs 165/kg on Friday, even when the government strives to increase supplies through imports.

The government in Parliament informed that imported onions will arrive before January 20.

In most cities, the onion traded above Rs 100/kg in retail markets, while in Nashik in Maharashtra, the key producing center, rates were ruled at Rs 75/kg on Friday, according to data maintained by the consumer ministry of affairs.

Retail onion prices were ruling high at Rs 165/kg in Panaji (Goa), Rs 160/kg in Mayabunder (Andaman) and Rs 150/kg in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Thrissure and Wayanad in Kerala on Friday.

The onion was sold at Rs 140/kg in Kolkata, Chennai and some places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Rs 130/kg in Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack (Odisha), Rs 120/kg in Gurgoan (Haryana) and Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), and Rs 100/kg in most cities tracked by the ministry.

"There is no doubt onion prices are rising. The main reason for rise in price was damage to the onion crop due to rains. Much of onion has been damaged in Maharasthra, the key growing state. However, the government has supplied buffer stock and asked MMTC to import onions and it should arrive by January 20," minister of state for consumer affairs Danve Raosaheb Dadarao said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

The government has approved the import of up to 1.2 lakh tons of onions to control the current price increase. The state-owned MMTC has been directed to import up to 1 lakh tons of onion through country-specific and global import tenders, he said.

Onion is a highly perishable product that is prone to weight loss and moisture, deterioration of quality, sprouting, losses in classification and separation, he added.

On Thursday, a group of ministers headed by Interior Minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation of onion prices and the progress made in the import of onions.

To boost supply and contain the price increase, the government has contracted more than 21,000 tons of imports through MMTC and shipments are expected to arrive in mid-January. Bidding and fumigation rules have also been easy to facilitate the early arrival of imported onions.

Among other measures, the government has already banned onion exports, imposed stock limits on traders and is also supplying regulatory stocks at a cheaper rate.

Traders and experts are of the view that onion prices will continue to remain firm till January when late kharif crop will start hitting the market.

The country had last imported 1,987 tons of onion in 2015-16 when the price skyrocketed significantly.