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No direct role of Farm Min in cultivation of vegetables

New Delhi: In the eye of a storm over soaring prices of vegetables like onions and tomatoes, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said his ministry had no direct role in cultivation of perishable items and was mainly concerned with cereals and sugarcane.

"Union Agriculture ministry is concerned with production of foodgrains like rice, wheat, sugarcane and pulses and does not have any direct role in cultivation of vegetables…

farmers themselves decide which crop to grow seeing the local conditions and which mandi to sell," he told reporters, here.

He, however, said onion prices have started coming down with increase in arrival from from Bhavnagar in Gujarat and Nashik (in Maharashtra).

Despite the slide in wholesale rate of onion in Delhi`s Azadpur market, Asia`s biggest fruits & vegetables market, the retail prices remained high at Rs 50-60 a kg.

In the last six days, the wholesale price of onion has dipped by Rs 18 a kg in Azadpur market. The wholesale rate of onion which had zoomed to Rs 50 a kg on January 13 has come down to Rs 32 per kg today, traders said.

The scene was no better in other metros where the root vegetable was available for Rs 50-65 a kg in retail.

Along with onion, another important vegetable tomato also showed rising trend in the metros where retail prices today were in the range of Rs 50-60 a kg.

The food inflation still remains high at 16.91 per cent for the week ended January 1 on account of high prices of vegetables, milk and meat.

Pawar said taking lessons from the ongoing onion crisis, "the ministry will provide subsidy to farmers to build green houses for cultivation of vegetables in 20-25 km radius around townships having population of about five lakh."
(Reopens Del 36) Wholesale price of onion dropped by Rs one/kg in main producing region Lasalgaon in Nashik district of Maharashtra too, NHRDF (National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation) data said.

It was available at a rate of Rs 32 a kg there today against Rs 33/kg yesterday, it added.

Onion arrival in the Azadpur market was high at 1100 tonnes today, General Secretary Onion Merchants Association Rajendra Sharma told PTI.

Azadpur market requires around 700-800 tonnes of onions daily, he added.

But, supply of tomato dropped in the Azadpur market to 10-12 trucks (each carrying 10 tonnes) due to winter chill in the feeder cities of Ahmedabad, Haldwani and Ratlam, General Secretary Tomato Merchants Association Subhash Chugh told PTI.

Chugh said no truck headed to Attari-Wagah border from here today for exporting the vegetable to Pakistan as it is no more lucrative in view of soaring domestic prices of the veggie.

Meanwhile, nearly 60 tonnes of onions from Pakistan out of 200 tonnes from that country that had arrived at Mundra port in Gujarat on Friday last reached Delhi today, official sources said.

While, two trucks (each carrying 20 tonnes Pakistani onions) are stored at agri-cooperative Nafed godown at Azadpur, one is in its Lawrence road storehouse, Nafed sources said.

The cooperative sent 16 tempos (each carrying about 500 kg onions) to sell it to consumers at Rs 35/kg in different localities in Delhi.

On the request of Resident Welfare Association (RWA), Dwarka, one truck of onion (weighing about 2500 kg) has been made available there, Branch Manager, Nafed, Lawrence Road, Sudhir Malhotra said.

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