New Delhi: Blaming the lack of uniformity in rain patterns for hurting production of onions, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Wednesday that the Centre is taking all possible steps but 30-40 per cent reduction in production and supply disruptions due to rains were the main cause for the price rise.
Paswan said that the Union government is taking all possible steps to curb price rise including creating a buffer stock of 56,700 tonnes of onions out of which 1,525 tonnes are available with NAFED at present, banning the export of onions so as to retain stock for domestic consumption and putting stock holding limit of 10 tonnes for retailers and 50 tonnes for wholesalers to ensure a constant and healthy supply in the market.
Enumerating the reasons for spurt in prices, Paswan said that all steps were taken but there is a 30-40 per cent reduction in production of onions and the supply has been disrupted due to rains. The arrival in Delhi mandi is up to 25 per cent less than those in the same months of previous years.
Paswan on Wednesday reviewed the prices and availability of onions across the nation with Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava and Food Secretary Ravi Kant along with other senior officials of the Ministry.
During the meetings, several steps taken by the government to curb price rise along with reasons for the increase in prices were discussed. It was informed that due to the delay in the arrival of monsoon, the sowing was delayed which had a cascading effect on arrival in the mandis. Also, untimely rains and the two cyclones had an impact on the overall production and also hindered the transportation of onions especially from Maharashtra.
Talking about the key decisions taken to further augment supplies, Paswan said that the Union Government will act as a facilitator for import of onion. Phytosanitary and fumigation requirements have been suitably liberalised by the Ministry of Agriculture to facilitate imports upto November 30, subject to certain conditions.
This will facilitate the immediate import of onions without compromising with safety and quality. In addition, the Indian missions in Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran are being requested to facilitate supply of onions to India. Commerce Ministry has also been asked to see the feasibility of banning export of dehydrated onions which can then be used for domestic consumption.
On Tuesday, in a meeting chaired by the Secretary, Consumer Affairs, NAFED was directed to supply the maximum possible quantities to Mother Dairy and Safal for retailing in Delhi. A team led by Additional MD, NAFED was asked to go to Nashik and take stock of the situation there and facilitate movement of supplies from Maharashtra to consuming regions including Delhi and adjoining regions.
Two inter-ministerial teams are being dispatched to Karnataka and Rajasthan to take stock of their onion supplies and encourage the supplies to consuming regions including Delhi-NCR.