Home >News >India >Centre may impose stock limits on traders to keep onion prices in check
Retail prices of onion have shot up to  ₹70-80 per kg in Delhi due to supply disruptions after floods. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Retail prices of onion have shot up to 70-80 per kg in Delhi due to supply disruptions after floods. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Centre may impose stock limits on traders to keep onion prices in check

  • Retail prices of the key cooking ingredient have shot up to 70-80 per kg in Delhi
  • Central agencies Nafed and the National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF) have been selling onion from buffer stocks at 22-23/kg

The Centre will not hesitate to impose stock limits on onion traders if its retail price does not soften considerably, food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday.

“We have taken the best possible measures so far to boost supply and contain onion prices. We have to look at other options like stock limits if the current high price situation continues," Paswan told reporters.

Retail prices of the key cooking ingredient have shot up to 70-80 per kg in Delhi due to supply disruptions after floods in some states. A similar price trend prevails in other parts of the country.

To give relief to consumers, central agencies Nafed and the National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF) have been selling onion from buffer stocks at 22-23/kg, while Mother Dairy’s Safal stores are selling at 23.90 per kg in the national capital. The Centre has discouraged exports of onion by raising the minimum export price and withdrawing incentives.

Paswan said the government will consider imposing a stock limit on traders once the buffer stock gets over. “We will also take stringent action against hoarders and black marketeers," he added.

The Centre has built a buffer stock of 50,000 tonnes of onion of which 15,000 tonnes have been offloaded in the domestic market.

Watch: Onion prices soar, Centre offers to supply states from 35,000-tonne stock

The matter also took a political turn with the Congress taking potshots at the government over the price rise. “Onion prices have been soaring while farmers bear the brunt of the loss in production and heavy flooding these past few months. The govt. needs to take immediate steps to control this price rise and ensure farmers get the right rate for their produce," the party tweeted.

Onion crop is grown thrice a year: rabi (March-June), kharif (October-December) and late kharif (January-March).The rabi crop, harvested between April and June, accounts for 60-65% of the annual production and sustains consumers till October-November. Maharashtra and Karnataka together account for more than half of the country’s onion production.

A detailed study by Bengaluru-based Institute for Social and Economic Change for the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which had on its own decided to investigate cartelization in onion prices, reveals an unholy nexus among a clutch of traders. The report, submitted in 2012, drawing from secondary data and a primary survey of mandis in Maharashtra and Karnataka, concluded that not only was there lack of competition in onion trading, there were also entry barriers—according to it, with most of the gains accruing to traders. According to the study, one individual accounted for as much as a fifth of the trade.

PTI contributed to this story

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