The government has taken steps to address the rise in onion prices by expanding the sale of discounted onions at Rs 25 per kg in several North Indian cities. The average retail price of onions in Delhi remained high at Rs 78 per kg, leading to this initiative.
The National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) of India has initiated the sale of discounted onions through mobile vans in various cities, including 71 places in Delhi-NCR, Jaipur (22), Ludhiana (12), Varanasi (10), Rohtak (6), and Srinagar (5). Similar sales are already ongoing in Bhopal, Indore, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, and Bangalore.
As of October 31, the all-India average retail price of onions increased to Rs 53.75 per kg, rising by Rs 3.40 per kg from the previous day. The onion prices in Delhi began rising from October 25 when they were at Rs 40 per kg and doubled to Rs 80 per kg on October 29. Prices slightly decreased to Rs 78 per kg on October 30 and remained at the same level the following day, according to data from the consumer affairs ministry.
To stabilize domestic availability, the government imposed a Minimum Export Price of US $800 per metric tonne (MT) on onion exports. Additionally, the government announced its plan to procure an additional 2 lakh tons of onions for the buffer, in addition to the 5 lakh tons already procured.
Official sources mentioned that the surge in onion prices across wholesale and retail markets in the country was due to speculation, despite Maharashtra having 15-20 lakh tonnes of rabi crop stock available, sufficient to meet the demand for a month. The sudden spike in onion prices cannot be solely attributed to a likely fall in fresh kharif output and a two-week delay in arrival, as there is enough old crop stock to meet the domestic demand. The government has also maintained a buffer stock of 5 lakh tonnes, as reported by PTI sources.