New Delhi | The Centre has taken a proactive approach to address the rising prices of onions by initiating an aggressive retail sale of onions at a subsidised rate of Rs 25 per kilogramme.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, this move is in response to the delay in the arrival of the kharif crop, which has contributed to an increase in onion prices.
The government has set a Minimum Export Price (MEP) of USD 800 per metric tonne and has enhanced buffer procurement, with over 5.06 lakh tonnes of onions already procured.
To make onions affordable and readily available to consumers, the Department of Consumer Affairs has started the retail sale of onions through various outlets and mobile vans, according to the press release.
The National Cooperative Consumers' Federation (NCCF), the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), Kendriya Bhandar, and other state-controlled cooperatives are involved in this initiative.
These organisations are selling onions at a subsidised price of Rs 25 per kilogramme.
As of November 2, NAFED has established 329 retail points across 21 states, including stationary outlets and mobile vans. Similarly, NCCF has set up 457 retail points in 20 states, read the press release.
Kendriya Bhandar has initiated retail supply in Delhi-NCR, starting on November 3 and Safal Mother Dairy is set to begin this weekend. In southern states, the Hyderabad Agricultural Cooperatives Association (HACA) is ensuring the retail sale of onions to consumers.
The government maintains an onion buffer to manage price fluctuations between rabi and kharif crops. This year, the buffer size has been increased to 7 lakh metric tonnes from 2.5 lakh metric tonnes in the previous year, read the press release.
The procurement of onions is ongoing, with 5.06 lakh metric tons already procured.
The proactive measures have started to show results, as onion prices in the Maharashtra's Lasalgaon market have declined by 24 per cent from Rs 4,800 per quintal on October 28 to Rs 3,650 per quintal on November 3.
Retail prices are expected to follow a similar trend in the coming weeks.
This approach is reminiscent of the government's intervention in the tomato market when prices surged due to supply disruptions.
The government procured tomatoes from producing states and provided them to consumers at highly subsidised rates, significantly reducing retail prices, read the release.
In addition to onions, the government has also taken steps to ensure the affordability and availability of pulses through the "Bharat Dal" initiative, offering subsidised prices of Rs 60 per kilogramme for 1 kg packs and Rs 55 per kilogramme for 30 kg packs. Bharat Dal is available for retail sale and for supply to the military, paramilitary forces, and welfare schemes through various cooperative organisations.
To date, 3.2 lakh metric tonnes of Chana stock have been allocated for conversion, with a substantial portion being milled and distributed through 3,010 retail points across 282 cities.
The government plans to make over 4 lakh tonnes of Bharat Dal available to consumers nationwide in the near future.