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The production of onions is expected to increase by more than seven per cent this year on the back of the farmers' interest in onion cultivation during the Rabi season, in the backdrop of the rising prices of the bulb that had shot up to Rs 150 per kg in the recent past.
According to the first advance production estimate of the crop year 2019-20 released by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on Monday, the country may produce 244.5 lakh tonnes of onions this year, which is 7.17 per cent more than the 228.2 lakh tonnes in 2018-19.
Due to the last monsoon rains, the Kharif crop has suffered damage in major onion producing states of the country.
Since September 2019, the price of onions began increasing despite all the measures taken by the government to control the prices. In December, the bulb was selling up to Rs 150 per kg in different parts of the country.
An official of the Agriculture Department said this enthused the farmers and in the hope of getting good prices, the farmers began growing new crop.
He said a bumper yield of onions is expected in the Rabi season, and to ensure good prices for the farmers, the government is considering lifting the ban on onion exports.
The Central government had banned onion exports in September to keep the prices of the vegetable under control.
Also, the government decided to import one lakh tonnes of onions with a view to increasing their availability. Public sector trading firm MMTC also signed deals for importing 40,000 tonnes of onions, of which about 25,000 tonnes of the bulb arrived, which the central government has to sell.
Even then, brisk business has not been witnessed as several states expressed reluctance to purchase imported onions.
On the other hand, onion prices have come down significantly in the last one month due to an increase in the bulb's domestic arrivals.
However, the retail price of onions is still Rs 30-Rs 60 per kg in the Delhi-NCR markets.
According to the retail price list available on the website of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the price of onions in Delhi was Rs 98 per kg on January 1, which, however, fell to Rs 61 per kg on January 27 -- registering a 37 per cent fall in price in Delhi this month.