Onion prices are on the rise due to low rainfall which led to an unexpected shortage. Consumers across India are set for budget changes as this kitchen staple becomes hard to find.
After the great tomato crisis earlier this year, onions seem to be the next victim on the chopping block. Onion prices have been making headlines across India recently, with a significant surge in the cost of this kitchen staple in several cities, including New Delhi, Bengaluru, and parts of Maharashtra. This surge in onion prices has caught both consumers and sellers by surprise, as just a week ago, onions were available at more affordable rates.
One of the primary reasons for the escalating onion prices is the delayed arrival of harvests from key producing states such as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Lower production in Karnataka is also a contributing factor, attributed to irregular rains and drought in some areas. In some regions, like Kurnool, a 24% rainfall deficit has impacted local onion crops. Onions require adequate watering during the growing season, and a scarcity of water due to poor rainfall has hindered their growth.
The effects of these factors are felt in the markets, where onion prices have surged significantly. In New Delhi, for example, the retail price of good quality onions reached Rs 90 per kilogram, up from Rs 80 per kilogram just the day before. Similar price increases have been observed in other regions.
This surge in onion prices is causing concern among consumers, as it directly affects their daily expenses. A vegetable seller in Ghazipur market mentioned that the rate of onions had shot up from Rs 30-40 per kilogram to Rs 70 per kilogram, and the worry is that it might continue to rise, possibly reaching Rs 100 per kilogram.
The government has taken steps to mitigate the situation by selling onions from its buffer stock in the wholesale and retail markets. Since mid-August, approximately 1.7 lakh tonnes of onions have been distributed to various states facing rising onion prices. Moreover, the government aims to stabilise the market by increasing its buffer stock to 5 lakh tonnes.
It's expected that onion prices will remain high in the short term but may cool down with the arrival of the new kharif crop, which has been delayed. Until then, consumers may need to adapt to higher onion prices and explore alternative options for their culinary needs.