CHENNAI: Onion prices have hit a record high in Chennai selling at Rs 120 per kg with traders claiming it could even breach Rs 150 mark as the promised imports of onions from Turkey and Egypt have yet to reach Indian shores.
The demand for onions is such that even the lesser-known quality of onions from Andhra Pradesh that have less shelf life is being sold at Rs 100 catching the consumers off the guard.
While many consumers have cut down on onions and have been relying on cheaper quality, traders say due to unavailability of the crop and lack of intervention from the government, the prices is likely to remain high.
Abdul Khader, secretary of Koyambedu Vegetable Wholesale Merchants Association and S Chandran, Market management Committee Licensed Merchants Association President and Anaithu Sangankalin Kootamaipu general secretary, told Express that they have never encountered such a spurt in the price of onions since they were trading in Chennai for the last 40 years.
Chandran says the price has been a record high now. "The half-hearted measures of the government to buy 20 per cent of the stock and then sell it at a discounted price won't help in cutting down the price. Either the government has to purchase the entire stock and then introduce it in the market at competitive rates which could then bring down the price onions," said Chandran.
Traders blame the government for failing to intervene despite having knowledge of yield of onions and how much has been destroyed in the rains. "The import should have happened much earlier so that the prices could be controlled," traders said.
But why is the surge in price so much? Traders claim the lack of availability of crop has pushed the onion prices to record high. The rains which played havoc on Maharashtra has affected the crop, as a result, there has been shortage of onions across the country.
Onions were marketed from Karnataka to North India. Thus there was a huge demand and the price of onion surged.
In Andhra Pradesh too seeing the surge of prices of onion and huge demand in local market the prices breached 50 and were seen selling Rs 80 a couple of days ago.
"The best quality of Andhra onions is now being sold at Rs 100," says Bhaskar, an onion trader.
Until the government imports onions, the price will continue to remain high, says a trader.