Centre importing 10,000 tonnes onion, asks states to curb hoarding

New Delhi: With retail price of onion crossing Rs 50 per kg, the Centre Monday said it is in the process of importing 10,000 tonnes of onions and asked states to crack down on hoarders to ensure adequate supplies in the market.

“We have taken several measures to check prices of onion in the last few weeks. We have tendered for import of 10,000 tonnes of onions, which will help increase supplies in the market,” Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters here.

Nafed has floated a tender for onion imports and the bids will be finalised this week, he said.

Stating that hoarders get active during this lean period of July-September, Paswan said, “We have imposed stock holding limits on onion. So far, three states have imposed stock limits. We have asked states to strengthen enforcement efforts and crack down on hoarders and profiteers.”

Last year too, timely action by state governments against hoarders had helped contain prices. “There were series of raids conducted in Delhi, Maharashtra and other states. That had helped in controlling prices. This time too, we have asked states to begin anti-hoarding campaign seriously.”

Barring onion, there is no price increase in other vegetables like potato and tomato, he added.

Meanwhile, the central agency Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) — which has procured up to 8,000 tonnes onions under the Price Stabilisation Fund — is boosting supplies in Delhi retail markets and has also tied up with the West Bengal government.

Retail prices of onions in Delhi have touched Rs 50-55 per kg and rates may rise further in the coming days. In some parts of the country, onion is available at around Rs 60/kg.

Much of the Rabi (winter) onion crop is stored to meet the demand in lean period. But this year, most of the onion kept in storage is of poor quality as the Rabi crop got damaged due to unseasonal rains in early March.

About 30 lakh tonnes of stored onion is left in the domestic market to cater to the demand till September.

Total onion production is estimated to be 189 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than 194 lakh tonnes in the year-ago.