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The price of onions brings tears

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Price of shallots hit a new high of ₹130 a kg in the wholesale market in the city on Monday, leaving consumers literally teary-eyed.

The sharp rise in the price of shallots has comes at a time when the price of bigger Bellary variety is also ruling high at ₹90 a kg. In the retail market, shallots was being sold at ₹140 and above, while the bigger variety ruled at least ₹10 a kg higher than the wholesale price.

Farmers and traders attribute the sudden spurt in the price of shallots to poor arrivals from Perambalur and Tiruchi district, both major producers of the bulbs.Farmers say that the crop in large tracts of fields in Perambalur and Tiruchi districts has been hit by disease due to rain and misty conditions. Perambalur and Tiruchi are the major onion producing districts in the State.

The crop is raised on over 8,000 hectares in Perambalur district and on about 4,000 hectares in Tiruchi district. “The first quality in small onion commanded ₹130 a kg in the market today; the next best quality sells at ₹110-115 a kg. The price of the bulbs have steadily gone up as arrivals from Thuraiyur (Tiruchi district) and Perambalur have dried up.

We had a similar situation in 2016 but the price of Bellary onions was moderate then and hence consumers could manage with that. But now, Bellary variety is also ruling high,” observed A.Thangaraj, General Secretary, Tiruchi Onion Commission Mandi Traders’ Association. According to traders, normally about 300 tonnes each of shallots and Bellary variety arrive in the wholesale market in the city, which caters to the retail markets in Tiruchi and its neighbouring districts.

“We are hardly getting 30 to 50 tonnes of shallots now. The arrivals are mostly from Dharapuram and Udumalpet, where farmers have held back some stocks, mostly for seeds. Now they are selling it as they are getting a good price,” said Mr.Thangaraj. Conceding that production has been badly hit in Tiruchi and Perambalur districts, R. Manickam, a shallot farmer of P.K.Agaram, said that farmers in the two districts had no stocks left and the rise in the price of the bulbs has not really benefited farmers. Mr. Manickam says he lost his crop raised on about one acre due to ‘kozhi kaal noi.’

“The disease hit the 40-day crop and the plants simply wilted. Though some plant protection chemicals are available to prevent the disease, there seems to be no way to control the disease once it hits a few plants. The disease spreads rapidly and there will be no yield,” said Mr. Manickam attributing the incidence of the disease to the combination of rain and misty conditions. Meanwhile, arrival of Bellary onions, which has come down over the past month or so, seemed to have slightly improved in the Tiruchi market. “We are getting about 200 tonnes from Nashik and Karnakata now,” Mr.Thangaraj said. Mr. Thangaraj predicted that the price of small onion has peaked and will continue to rule at Monday’s level for the next fortnight until the arrival of the next crop raised by farmers’ in Perambalur and Tiruchi district post-Deepavali. “The price of both the varieties will come down to the normal of about ₹40 a kg only by January,” he said.

(source : The Hindu)

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