MADURAI: Blame it on the unseasonal rains that lasted the southern states and the rise in fuel tariff, the price of shallots has skyrocketed from Rs 50 for a kilogramme to a whopping Rs 180 in the district in just a month. Badly hit, the consumers including hotel owners and traders have no option but to request for government intervention to contain the price rise.
The hotel industry, which is struggling to come out of the effects of the Covid-19 induced lockdown, sees the price of onion that has gone through the roof as a double whammy.
Speaking to TNIE, Central Market Wholesale Sellers Association President PS Murugan said that the supply of shallots from Ottanchathiram and Dindigul has reduced drastically due to the rains. "Usually 30 loads of shallots come to the Central Market. But for the last 20 days, it has been reduced to nil. The price of big onions also increased from Rs 20 to Rs 60 for a kilogramme. Now, it is being imported from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh," he said.
Member of East Marret Street Onion Association, M Jothi Basu, said that a few areas are ready to cultivate shallots in a month and it would help increase the supply. "If the supply increases, the price of onion will automatically decrease. At the same time, the fuel price has also gone up. Usually, 1500 to 2000 sippam (Tamil unit of measurement) of shallots and big onions would come to East Marret Street Market. Now, it has reduced to around 800. On Monday, shallots were sold at Rs 1500 for 10 kg", he said.
Owner of New Mass Hotels, M Rahmathulla, said that the industry is going through a crucial period. "It is necessary for us to provide quality food without increasing the price. "The increase in prices of onions and vegetables has thrown a huge challenge. I require 100 kg of big onions at my hotel daily. The government should come forward and take steps to provide onions at subsidised rate," he said.
Alternatives for onion
Madurai Hotels Association President K Lakshmana Kumar said that he is trying to find various alternatives for onion. "We have already submitted a representation to the government regarding the price hike of onions and other vegetables. If the situation continues, hoteliers will be forced to use cabbage instead of onions," he said.
A homemaker from Sellur, Raja Gowri, said that she has stopped purchasing shallots and vegetables which are costlier to make both ends meet.
Prices of drumstick, curry leaves also up
It's not just onions, the prices of drumstick, ladies finger, butter beans and brinjal have also increased. A wholesale dealer at Central Market, Sethupathy, said that nearly 20 days ago, brinjal was sold at Rs 20 a kilogramme and now, it is being sold at Rs 60. "Similarly, the prices of drumstick and curry leaves that were sold at Rs 20 have increased to Rs 120 and Rs 200 respectively," he said.