Onions on sale at a market in Kolkata on Friday. (Express photo/Partha Paul)
Onion scarcity will continue for the whole month of December and the situation may only improve by the first week of January, said a member of the Task Force, which was formed by the West Bengal government to check vegetable prices. Vegetable sellers, on the other hand, have refused to sell or stock onions due to fear of incurring loss.
“I had stocked 6 kg onions, which were not of premium quality. One kilo turned bad. Due to regular loss, I have decided not to sell onions till prices come down to normal,” said Ravi Shaw, a vegetable seller at Kestopur local market.
Onion prices reached an all-time high with the premium variety selling for Rs 150 a kg from Thursday, despite the government’s efforts to make it available at a reasonable rate.
“The prices are likely to remain high till the year-end. In the new year, Bengal will have its own stock. Also, it is likely to receive onion from Maharashtra and Karnataka. So, the situation may improve,” Rabindranath Koley, a member of the Task Force told The Indian Express.
According to officials, as a large number of vegetable sellers have refused to sell onions, the government is planning to make them available in ration shops in the state.
“Five quintal of onions will be supplied to each ration shop. The vegetable will be available to consumers at Rs 60 per kg,” said a government official. Sources said onions will be available at ration shops by next week.
According to other members of the Task Force, 40 kg of onions are being sold for Rs 5,000 in the wholesale market, while in the local markets, prices range from Rs 120 to 150. However, as per the state government, all efforts are being made to fight the crisis.
Government officials claimed that onions are being sold at the Sufal Bangla stores at Rs 59 per kg. The Agri-marketing Department is selling onions at the same price through its mobile vans stationed outside markets, including Manicktala, Beliaghata, Sobhabazar, Kankurgachhi and Sarat Bose Road.
The government constructs the stalls and provide vehicles for bringing the goods from the farmers directly to the stalls of Sufal Bangla.
The Bengal government has also placed an order for 800 tonne of imported onions with the NAFED for delivery by December-end to support the supply of the staple at a fair price.