Onion prices in Asia surge 9-22% as India scouts for imports

Onion prices in Asia surge 9-22% as India scouts for imports

Onion prices in major Asian markets like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have climbed to $2-$6 per kg over the past few weeks, up $0.5-$1 per kg, with experts attributing the sudden demand from India as one of the reasons.

Across the world, onion prices are up around 12 percent on an average, over November.

India, the world’s largest exporter of onions, banned exports in September, and this is likely to continue for a while till prices come under control.

A similar trend in onion prices has also been seen in countries like China, Iran, Indonesia and South Korea, where prices have risen between 9 percent and 22 percent over the last one month.

The National Horticulture Development Board (NHDB) has estimated India’s onion shortfall at 1.6 lakh tonnes. India has already banned onion exports and is looking to import 1.2 lakh tonnes of the bulb to cool soaring prices at home.

But, so far, only around 21,000 tonnes of onion have been contracted, according to official data.

Onion prices in India are at record highs, retailing anywhere between Rs 80 and Rs 180 per kilogram, with instances of heists and thefts of the bulb being reported from many parts of the country.

Among the measures by the central government to curb prices, states have been asked to crack down on hoarders, create a buffer stock, and distribute imported onions.

Experts say the main reason for soaring onion prices is not so much hoarding, as it is genuine shortage.

Delay in sowing due to late arrival of monsoon, decline in sowing area, extended and unseasonal rains have all resulted in a steep decline in onion production.

The kharif output for the current fiscal is expected to be 26 percent lower at 5.2 million tonnes.

According to NHDB, following are the retail prices per kilogram in some of the major cities

Delhi:          Rs 95

Chennai:     Rs 120

Kolkata:       Rs 130

Bengaluru: Rs 130

Mumbai :     Rs 140

Vijayawada: Rs 180