TIRUCHY: Shallot prices crashed to Rs 70 to Rs 75 this week, after the wholesale markets received more arrivals due to better procurement. “We have been receiving around 150-200 tonne of shallot onions for the past few days. This scenario is in contrast to the 50 tonne during November. So wholesalers have reduced prices sharply,” said A Thangaraj, a wholesaler and the secretary of the Tiruchy district Shallot Commission Wholesalers Association.
From the inputs, only 10 per cent is being distributed for the local trade in Tiruchy and the rest is exported. “We are exporting a minimum of 30 tonne to Kerala, 40 tonne to Sri Lanka and 70 tonne to other districts such as Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Nagapattinam,” added Thangaraj.Shallot onions, otherwise known as small onions or sambar onions, saw a sharp price rise in the first week of November. First-grade shallot onion cost Rs 180 at retail outlets. Demand was attributed to the dip in procurement. More farmers in the shallot belt chose to re-cultivate their outputs as investment inputs in their own fields rather than sending shallots for procurement.
To increase inputs, wholesalers started to employ more agents in villages in districts such as Perambalur and Tiruchy. Perambalur has a bulk share of 24 per cent of overall production of shallots in the State with at least 8,000 hectares under cultivation. In Perambalur district, shallots are mainly cultivated in Chettikulam, Irur and Echankadu in Kunnam taluk. They are also cultivated in Alathur, Nakkasalem, Padalur and Nattarmangalam in Alathur taluk and Chatthiramanai, Pommanapadi and Ammapalayam in Perambalur taluk.
In Tiruchy district, shallots are cultivated in Thuraiyur, Marungapuri and Mannachanallur. Through the agents, wholesalers were able to convince farmers with an eight per cent commission, three per cent more than what wholesalers pay traders, who acted as middlemen.
Shallot procurement mainly used to take place at the Shallot Trade Complex in Chettikulam in Perambalur district, which has an auction centre and storage godown. However, many farmers have begun to lose faith in the facility. Thus agents began to unload more shallots in the weeks that followed the November hike. “Our fellow farmers in Perambalur do not mind trading with wholesalers in Tiruchy as it is more profitable for a fresh harvest. Their stocks also do not need to rot in the cold storage and refrigeration in the Shallot Trade Complex,” said R Raja Chidambaram, State secretary, Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam
“Our sales of shallot onions were down by 33 per cent as many of my consumers started opting for large onions, which were three times cheaper than shallots,” said C Muhammad Eliyas, a vegetable shop retail seller.“We are expecting another Rs 10 dip in all grades before Pongal,” said Thangaraj.
Agents at work to bring more produce to market
To increase inputs, wholesale merchants started to employ agents in villages in districts such as Perambalur and Tiruchy. More farmers in the shallot belt chose to re-cultivate their outputs as investment inputs in their own fields rather than sending them for procurement