India Faces Onion Shortage, 15,000 Metric Tons to be Imported Soon
The unruly rise in prices of vegetables has been a major issue of concern amongst citizens of India in the last few days. Majority of the vegetables are priced at Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kg and that of onions and potatoes have skyrocketed.
One kilogram of onion could cost anywhere between Rs 60 to Rs 85.
These unregulated prices of vegetables especially that of onions are attributed to the newly amended Essential Commodities Bill that has excluded onions and pot
atoes from the list of essentials.
In September, approving the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the Central government said that the freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into the agriculture sector.
On the flip side, this law has pushed the onions and potato traders outside any department's radar thus helping them in manipulating prices freely.
Manash Nath, Director of Food and Civil Supplies department speaking to G Plus said, "Vegetables were never under our department. It was earlier regulated by the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB). But that is currently non-functional. So traders get to freely increase the price of vegetables. As for onions and potatoes, after these were removed from the list of essential commodities it is no longer under our department to regulate prices."
"We are procuring onions from Nasik and Indore and distributing them at the 'ration dukan' (fair price shops) at Rs 35 for everyone. Onions can be bought by every citizen from here at Rs 35, even those who do not have a ration card. But the prices of onions in groceries are around Rs 60-65 and the roadside vendors are selling at an even higher price of Rs 80-85," he added.
Tracing the root cause of the high prices of onion, Nath said, "Crops in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the main onion belt of the country, were destroyed due to extensive rain. The supplies were provided from the buffer crops of March, which is equally diminishing. Now the Central government will be importing 15000 million tons (mt) of onions to cater to the demands of the country. 7000 mt has already been imported by private players.”
Biswajit Pegu, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Kamrup (M) informed G Plus that officials of the Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department (FCS&CA) are inspecting shops selling onions and potatoes on a regular basis with help from the DCs office.
Reportedly, the prices of the same are likely to continue until the production of the next crop in December this year.
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