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Onions have left customers teary-eyed as its prices continue to soar across the country. On 10th December, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan informed Lok Sabha that the prices of onion have increased by 400 per cent after March as the average retail price of onion on December 3, 2019 was recorded to be Rs 81.9 per kg as compared to Rs 15.87 per kg in March 2019. However, not just onions but prices of 20 other essential food items including rice, wheat, flour, pulses, oil, tea, sugar, jaggery, vegetables, milk, potato and tomato have also witnessed a gradual increase.
In India, onion is a widely consumed vegetable across the country throughout the year. Notably, though the country produces much more onion than it consumes, around 30-40 per cent of the crop gets lost during the storage. As onion harvested during the rabi season accounts for more than 60 per cent of total production, it becomes essential to successfully store rabi onion in order to maintain its supply in the markets. Otherwise, the instability in supply due to lack of storage will continue to create market distress that will eventually cause a steep rise in the onion price.
It has to be noted that India currently has a total cold storage capacity of 226.7 lakh tonnes as against the required capacity of 350 lakh tonnes. According to Agriculture Ministry, as many as 208 cold chain and value addition infrastructure facilities with 5.3 lakh tonnes capacity are built till October 31 this year under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) managed by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. Since 2015, a total of 1,303 cold storages with total capacity of over 45 lakh MT established in country under the schemes under Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW).
Therefore, it is pivotal to create adequate storage facilities which will help in checking the supply volatility and steep rise in crop prices.
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