With festivities approaching round the corner and people planning for feasts, it seems that with the hike in onion prices, the festive fun is near spoilt. Since the past 15 days, the price for a kg of onion has been swinging between Rs. 60-70, giving jitters to both consumers and sellers. Some may even ask, why the hullabaloo over the price, as if one’s life depends upon onions? But for a regular household where onion is the key ingredient of the kitchen, a rupee hike matters much.
“The price of onions reached its highest this year resulting in its reduced sale by 30-40%”, informs Sunil Kumar Prasad, one of the many onion wholesellers of Lal Bazaar in Gangtok.
As these vegetable bulbs get costlier, deeper dents appear in people’s pockets. Considering the festivals, when people are already splurging on shopping for new clothes and other household items, paying a high price for onions is proving to be an add-on expense.
As per a local whole seller in Gangtok, the hike in the price is due to low supply of onions from the producer states. Prolonged monsoon resulting in floods in these states are being cited as the main reason behind low productivity and supply.
However, Sunil Kumar, another retailer, is of a different opinion. He tells that he is not facing the supply shortage, but his sale of onions has decreased due to the increase in price.
As per the national media reports, price of the onions across the country has shot up so much that the government had to ban the export of onions last week. According to a report, the hike in onion prices this year is recorded the highest in past 2 years.
“We don’t procure onions directly from the growers. It comes to us through the middlemen from the large sabzi mandis in West Bengal. The wholesale price in which they sell us is already hiked. Consequently, we are compelled to raise the price here”, says one Ashok Kumar, another local whole seller.
The wholesale price of onion has touched Rs. 4,800 per quintal, as per the Lall Bazaar wholesale market data. This records hike of about Rs. 1,000 per quintal in recent times.
One of the members of the Traders’ Association of Lall Bazaar informs that they have no direct control over the market price of various commodities including the onions.
Sikkim State Co-operative Supply & Marketing Federation Limited (SIMFED), a Government of Sikkim undertaking, is said to have been involved in many ways with the price control in the market and to make the prices of daily consumables reasonable.
“SIMFED is not the authority to directly control and fix the market rates. However, when the prices go higher than the normal, the federation does play a vital role by trying to make the particular item available to the consumer at a reasonable rate with zero profit margin”, clarifies Jiwan Sharma, General Manager, SIMFED.
He adds that since the market is open and a competitive one, the buyers have the freedom to buy from where they find reasonable rates as per them.
“I have cut down the use of onions in the kitchen since the prices are soaring high”, shares Pooja Chettri, a homemaker from Tadong, Gangtok. There are many households like Pooja’s who have not totally stopped the use of onions but are finding ways to control its use and savour food with the much-used ingredient in it.
“We cannot stop using onions. Now it becomes imperative for the government to intervene and monitor the prices”, asserts Neeta Bhutia, a consumer from Deorali, Gangtok.
For Ranjit Prasad Gupta, a vegetable vendor it Deorali, Gangtok, his sale of onions have drastically dropped almost 35-40% since last month. Ranjit, who usually used to sell 6-8 sacks of onions a month is now being able to sell only 2-3 bags which sums up to just 100 -300 kgs a month.
Many are also of the opinion that not only onions, but most of the household commodities have their price hikes, but onions are one of the most used ingredients, it is gathering attention with the price rise. One such item includes the lemon which is now being sold at Rs. 6-7 per piece. Again, the whole sellers and the vendors reason out that low supply and high demand for this citrusy fruit has resulted in the price hike.