By A Special Correspondent
The price of onions has been heading north as supplies have been disrupted from Maharashtra, the major supplier of the commodity across India. The government has been taking several steps to ensure that the prices remained at manageable levels. It had imposed a minimum export price of $850 per tonne after which exports had gone down a little. Yet, there was no easing of prices in the domestic market.
In a concerted move by many government departments today, the government moved to place a complete ban of export of onions and to limit the stocks retailers and wholesalers can keep with them at a time. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade issued a notification saying "export of all varieties of onions is prohibited from immediate effect". The move is likely to improve domestic supplies
With supplies in the domestic market hit by floods in Maharasthra and with prices rising every few days, it was seen that traders were hoarding the commodity. Once they have seen good prices, these traders would have continued to rig prices by hoarding onions and curtailing supply. Hence, the Consumer Affairs Ministry imposed a stock limit. Retailers can hold only 100 quintals of onions and wholesalers 500 quintals. States have been asked to take strict measures to enforce this.
The price of onions is a very sensitive matter as the vegetable is used in almost all kitchens in India, almost every day and in good quantity. Hence, the government has done well do take these measures. It is now upon the states to ensure that unscrupulous traders do no create an artificial shortage and rig prices.