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Govt releases buffer stock of onion to states to check price rise

New Delhi,  To check any sharp jump in retail onion prices, the Centre on Friday said it has started offloading the buffer stock in a calibrated and targeted manner to states where prices are increasing over the previous months.

The buffer stock is being released even in Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon wholesale mandis of onion in Maharashtra to augment the supply in these markets, the Consumer Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the states had been offered onion at Rs 21/kg ex-storage locations. The Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets had also been supplied at Rs 26/kg inclusive of transportation cost, it said.

“… aggressive releases of onion from the buffer contributes to stability in prices,” the ministry noted.

As per the ministry’s data, retail onion prices are inching up slowly in the last few weeks. Onion prices were ruling at Rs 37/kg in Delhi and Chennai, while Rs 39/kg in Mumbai and Rs 43/kg in Kolkata on February 18.

The ministry further said that late Kharif (summer) onion arrivals are steady and expected to remain till Rabi (winter) arrival from March, 2022.

As of February 17, the all-India average price of onion was ruling 22.36 per cent lower than the last year, it said.

According to the ministry, onion prices remained substantially stable during 2021-22 due to effective market intervention through the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF).

Similarly, all India average retail price of potato was ruling 6.96 per cent lower at Rs 20.58/kg on February 17 from over the last month.

“Potato sowing has been delayed in the southern part of West Bengal due to cyclone Jawad, however, the State reported that crop area has recovered almost to the level of last year,” the ministry said.

The total crop area for 2021-22 is estimated to be comparable with that of last year, it added.

Under the PSF scheme, interest-free advances are provided to states for the creation of State-level Price Stabilisation Fund, on a 50:50 sharing basis (75:25 in case of NE States).

So far six states, viz., Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal have drawn the advance and a total of Rs 164.15 crore has been released as Central share.

These states have the funds and mandate to undertake necessary interventions for controlling prices of essential food commodities.

“Other states have also been requested to set up the PSF for state-level interventions to control price rise in essential food commodities,” it added.

In the case of tomatoes, prices have been on a decline during the past one month though remained slightly above the last year’s level.

As of February 1, the all-India average price of tomato was Rs 26.69/kg which is lower than that in the last month.

As arrivals in north India will pick up the pace, prices will go down further in the coming week. Arrivals in South India will also increase in the coming week and will pick up the pace till the end of February, it added. PTI