New Delhi, November 30: Onion and tomato prices have gone up substantially over the past one week due to the shortage of supply. The wholesale price of onion has gone up significantly from Rs 30-35 per kg to Rs 40-45 per kg. Vegetable vendors are of the opinion that the sudden surge in prices is due to limited supply. As per reports, wholesale and retail prices are ruling high because of lower arrivals from the key growing states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. It has to be noted that Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat are major onion-producing states. 40% of India’s total onion crop is produced in the Kharif season and the rest during the rabi season. Onion is cultivated usually thrice in a year. Moreover, onion, being a Kharif crop cannot be stored.

Earlier this week, tomato prices in retail markets of New Delhi soared to Rs 80 per kg due to tight supplies. The availability of tomato is less at present because the crop has been hit badly due to recent rains in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Tomatoes in Delhi retail markets are being sold at Rs 70-80 per kg against the Rs 30-35 in the year-ago period. According to a PTI report, 225-250 tonnes of tomato are traded in six major mandis in Delhi on a daily basis on an average.  But at present, 170-180 tonnes are being traded. At Azadpur mandi in the national capital, Asia’s largest vegetable market, onion prices are ruling at over Rs 50-60 per kg, and the same onion is being retailed at Rs 80 per kg.

The sudden surge in onion prices is because the kharif harvest got delayed due to low acreage.  India produced 18.9 million tonnes of onions in 2014-15, which surged to 20.9 million tonnes in 2015-16 and further increased to 21.7 million tonnes in 2016-17. The Centre, saying that the onion yield is expected to be low this year expressed its helplessness in controlling the rising prices of onions, which crossed Rs 60 per kg this week in Delhi. Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the production this year was expected to be lower since the area under onion cultivation had reduced to 1.90 lakh hectares in 2017-18 from 2.65 lakh hectares in 2016-17.

Earlier this week, state-run Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) on Wednesday said that it will import 2,000 tonnes of onion to check onion prices and cater to the local demand.  National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED) and Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) will buy 12,000 tonnes locally to increase onion supplies. Meanwhile, Paswan on Wednesday said that his ministry has again written to the commerce ministry to reimpose export floor price of USD 700 per tonne on onion to discourage outbound shipments.