The onion price in Calcutta has breached the Rs 100/kg mark on Monday. At several markets in the city, the crop was sold for Rs 120 a kg or even more.
The price, which usually varies around Rs 35 a kg in Calcutta, had hovered around Rs 70 to Rs 75 for a long time. Traders and government officials said the old stock that was still available in local warehouses had kept the prices in that range.
Now that the old stock has exhausted and fresh supplies are yet to reach the optimum level, the prices have risen.
An official in the Centre’s National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) said consumers had to wait at least till mid-December for prices to come down.
Government officials, wholesalers and retailers blamed the price rise on an untimely rain in Maharashtra’s Nashik, which supplies the bulk of onions Calcuttans consume.
Some traders also ascribed the price hike to the end of supply from south India for this year.
A portion of the onions consumed in the city comes from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In Salt Lake’s CK and GD markets, onions sold at Rs 125 a kg on Monday. At Gariahat, Lake Market, Ultadanga and New Market, the price was Rs 100 a kg. Chittaranjan Saha, a vegetable vendor at Gariahat, said he had to buy one kilogram of onion for Rs 85.
“Usually, I buy 10kg every day and most of it would get sold. But for the last two days almost half the stock has been remaining unsold,” he said.
A wholesaler at the Posta market, in the central business district, said they had been buying onions at Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,400 for 40kg over the past three or four days. It translates to Rs 75 to Rs 85 a kg.
Traders said the untimely rain in Nashik had destroyed onion in the fields. The stock in warehouses in Maharashtra’s onion belt was hit, too, as water seeped in.
“For every 20 tonnes of onions in warehouses, five to six tonnes were damaged and had to be thrown away,” a trader at Koley Market in Sealdah said.
At the Posta market, only five or six truckloads of onions are arriving each day for some time, compared with the usual turnout of 25 trucks.
Biswanath Dey, another wholesaler at Posta, said the stock in local godowns was usually enough to meet the demand for around a fortnight. If the supply does not pick up by then, the prices go up.