CHENNAI: Consumers are likely to shed more tears over high onion price as unexpected rains and pest menace have hit the crop in major onion-producing States in the South. Wholesale onion traders in Chennai said 90 per cent of the crop in Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra have been destroyed due to unexpected rains. The price of one kg of onion has already breached Rs 80-mark and it is likely to rise further for another three months.
Chennai consumes around 1,000 tonnes of onion per day and is currently facing a supply crisis. While the city requires 5,000 truckloads of onion to satisfy its hunger for the product, only 15 to 20 trucks are actually arriving. A wholesale onion trader told Express that the governments concerned did not pay attention to the plight of farmers, who were struggling to get remunerative price for onion. “The onion prices from February to August were abysmally low. The crop was offered a minimum support price of around Rs 7- 8 without taking into account the labour costs,” the onion trader said. At that time, many traders used to throw the produce in bins as there was an excess, he said.
After the Centre effected a ban on export of onions from India, which were in much demand abroad, the international prices, too, have been affected. In this scenario, if the government decides to import the produce, to meet the current shortfall, it would take time and by that time the price here would have breached Rs 100-mark, felt the traders.
A trader told Express that sowing of onion seeds in Maharashtra was yet to start due to rains and this would further delay fresh arrivals. It is learnt that the State government conducted searches in many large shops in Maharashtra, but were unable to find any signs of hoarding. Searches were carried out even in Chennai, said a trader. With elections around the corner, onion could turn a tearjerker, warned a trader. While onion is being sold for Rs 80 per kg, shallots are being sold in the range of Rs 100-120 per kg.