Mumbai: Even though no knives are out, onions are being their natural, lachrymation-inducing selves. Naturally, it is to do with their current skyrocketing prices in the wholesale and retail market. On Tuesday, they were priced at Rs 80-90 per kilogram (kg) at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market in Vashi and retailed between Rs 110 and Rs 150 a kg in the city and suburbs. These high prices are likely to last for a month, said an onion trader from the APMC market.
According to an onion trader, a large chunk of crop was destroyed by the irregular rains in October and November across various parts of Maharashtra. Pune, Nashik, Solapur and Ahmednagar are the four main areas, where onion is grown on a large scale. To make matters worse, on Tuesday, Ahmednagar and Sangamner received sporadic bursts of rain, which will affect the new onion crops.
Earlier, the APMC would get 100-120 trucks of onions daily but for the last few days, after onion farms were laid waste by the unseasonal rains, only 50-60 trucks have been arriving at the market. Traders are forced to pay well over usual because of the shortage in supply.
“This is for the first time in the last 50 years the prices have gone up because of the irregular rains, which have destroyed the onion crops. At the wholesale market, the current price per kilo of onion is between Rs 80-90 per kg and Rs 110-150 in the retail market. These prices may further rise due to a shortage of supply. It will take at least a month for the situation to get back to normal,” said Ashok Valunj, former director, APMC market.
The increased prices have broken the budget of consumers and many have forsworn the beloved bulb for now.
“After prices came down to Rs 120 per kg from Rs 160 per kg, we bought four kilos, anticipating that prices would go up again," said Menaka Talpade, a retired banker from Santacruz.
“The current price of onions is equivalent to our vegetable budget for an entire day. So, I have decided to stop using onions until the prices come down,” said Mrs Dhan Singh, a homemaker from Mira Road.
“Onions are selling for Rs 120 per kg, three to four times their earlier cost. Even those which are not at peak freshness are being sold in the market at Rs 100 per kg. Before, we used to purchase it in bulk to ensure it was always handy but now, we only buy as much as is required on a given day,” said G R Mishra, resident of Kalachowkie.
"Onion prices in Chembur are between Rs 100 to Rs 120 per kilogram. However, there are also vendors selling them at Rs 70-80 a kilo but the quality is not so good," said Nisha Ridlan, a resident.