By Ram Kumar Kaushik
“Usually, onion prices in the retail markets come under pressure for 20 days or so till the fresh kharif crop hits the market. But this time, there won't be a problem.”
He said that the government has geared up well in advance to meet the increasing demand during festive season.
“We have procured 20% more onion at 3 lakh tonnes as buffer stock this year. This will help us deal with any eventuality during festive season of October November before the kharif harvest,” he said.
Onion prices, which have changed government in the past, have been moderate during the tenure of the current secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, a 1989 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS officer. There has been no export ban or panic in last one and a half years since his annexation.
“Better planning and tight monitoring have helped control this seasonal price hike in onions. Rohit Kumar Singh is quite sensitive to consumer issues. He personally keeps a tight vigil on price movement of commodities,” said a senior officer of consumer affairs department.
The government has increased intake of onions in buffer stock to rule out any supply gap.
In year 2021-22, the buffer stock was 2 lakh tonnes which was increased to 2.5 lakh tonnes in 2022-23, which has been further risen to 3 lakh tonnes. The department purchases onions through farmers' cooperative Nafed.
Tomato prices to cool off
The consumer affairs ministry is also geared up to cool off the rising tomato prices. It has offloaded tomatoes at Rs 80-90 a kg – almost half the market price.
Tomatoes are being sold through the network of Nafed and National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF), which are also procuring tomatoes from key producing centres of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Rohit Kumar Singh said that the government for the first time, is procuring and selling tomatoes in retail markets.
“We have done that for onion. It is going to be a challenging task as tomato is a highly perishable commodity. The sale of tomatoes at discounted rates will continue till prices cool down, which is likely at the beginning of August,” Singh said.
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