Average traded price of the bulb at Lasalgaon wholesale market in Nashik district was recorded at Rs 4,500 per quintal on Monday. (File photo)
Onion prices across Maharashtra crashed on Monday as imported onions, as well as domestic produce, reached the wholesale markets at the same time. Trade sources said the sudden spike in onion prices during the last two weeks was mostly due to speculation by a section of traders in selective markets.
After trading above Rs 6,000 per quintal over the last few days, average traded price of the bulb at Lasalgaon wholesale market in Niphad taluka of Nashik district dropped by almost 30 per cent and was recorded at Rs 4,500 per quintal on Monday.
Jaydutt Holkar, chairman of the Lasalgaon market — the largest onion market in the country — pointed to the increased arrivals for the price collapse. “Farmers have started uprooting their yet-to-mature onions to take advantage of the present prices. Such sub-standard onions have brought down the prices,” he said.
Onion trader, Rajendra Shelke, operating out of Vashi wholesale market in New Mumbai, said there was a similar drop in price in the market. “Last week onion was trading over Rs 100 per kg, but today the prices have come down by Rs 10-20 per kg,” he said. Increased arrivals from neighbouring states, like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, were responsible for the price reduction, Shelke said.
A steep rise in wholesale and retail prices in the past few weeks had foxed the authorities as well as the markets. Trade sources now say the price hike noted in some markets towards the end of November and early December might have been artificial.
On December 5, Atif Nadaf, a trader operating out of Solapur’s wholesale market had purchased onions at the rate of Rs 20,000 per quintal from a farmer. “This has to be the historically highest rate ever fetched by onion,” the trader had then said. However, since then prices have dropped by over 50 per cent as arrivals of both quality as well as sub-standard quality onions have flooded the market.
Another reason for the price crash, traders say, is the easy availability of imported onions which are being picked up by institutional buyers, like hotels and restaurants. Suresh Deshmukh, a commission agent operating out of the Dindori market in Nashik district, said around 6,000-7,000 tonnes of onions were docked in Mumbai’s ports since September this year. The central government through the MMTC has already floated tenders to import around 20,000 tonnes of onions from various countries. Of this around 17,000 tonnes is expected to arrive at Mumbai ports soon.