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As Onion Supply from Nashik Dips, Bengal Looks Southward

The crop damage in Maharashtra’s Nasik due to hailstorms led to the dwindling of supplies to the state and the soaring of prices.

Published: 30th June 2014 01:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th June 2014 01:11 AM   |  A+A-

KOLKATA: With Eid, Durga Puja and Kali Puja round the corner, West Bengal has decided to take steps to ensure a steady supply of onion and prevent hoarding and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently held a meeting to explore ways to get onion from south India and control the prices.

The crop damage in Maharashtra’s Nasik due to hailstorms led to the dwindling of supplies to the state and the soaring of prices.

Last year, the price of onions shot up to `80 a kg, creating panic among people. Though onion is now sold at `35 a kg in the state capital, there is apprehension that the price might reach `100 a kg in October.

Some experts believe the shortage is due to hoarding to some extent as onion, unlike other vegetables, could be preserved for six months. However, they admitted that hailstorms, irregular rains and the delayed monsoon had affected the production of onion.

The number of trucks of onion ferried to the state daily, mainly from Maharashtra, has come down to 20 from 40. And the railways has reduced the number of rakes that transported onion every day from six to two.

As a result, the state is looking to Andhra Pradesh and other southern states for more onion supplies.

Said Debashish Saha, one of the largest onion traders in the state: “Only Andhra Pradesh which harvests large quantities of onion can help the state. If the crop is not damaged due to rains in south India, we can sell onion at a lower price. Otherwise, the price will keep rising as the demand will also increase.”

Because of rains, more than 60 percent of the crop has been damaged in Nasik, which supplies  onion to most parts of the country. “The demand is rising not only in India but also in the Middle East and Sri Lanka because of Eid. We are now depending on onion harvest in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which will be done in August. Supplies from these two states will bail us out during the entire festive season,” Saha said.

Rabindranath Koley, a member of the special task force set up to control prices of essential commodities, said: “We have already contacted dealers in south India as the festive season is nearing. We are working out a plan to tackle the problem and hopefully the growers in south India will not disappoint us.”



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