New Delhi: The government on Friday announced it will release onion from its buffer stock in the targeted regions with immediate effect to ensure prices remain under check till the new crop arrives from October onwards. The government is exploring multiple options for disposal of onion: e-auction, e-commerce as well as through states at discounted rates via retail outlets of their consumer cooperatives and corporations, it said.
The government has currently maintained 3 lakh tonnes of onion under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) to meet any exigencies, if rates go up significantly during the lean supply season.
As per the government data, onion prices have started inching up slightly as all-India retail price of the key kitchen staple was available at Rs 27.90 per kilogramme on August 10, higher by a little over Rs 2 per kg in the year-ago period.
“We will release onion from the buffer stock immediately,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh told PTI.
The modalities for the disposal of onion has been finalised after discussions with the officials of cooperative NAFED and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF) on August 10, he said.
The ministry, in a statement, said it will release the onion stocks by targeting key markets in states or regions where retail prices are ruling above the all-India average and also where the increase in prices over previous month and year are above the threshold level.
Disposal through e-auction and retail sales on e-commerce platforms are also being explored. The quantity and pace of disposal will also be calibrated with the prices and availability situations with the objective of making onion available to consumers at affordable prices, it said.
Apart from market disposal, it has also decided to offer state governments at discounted rates for sale through retail outlets of their consumer cooperatives and corporations.
In current year, a total of three lakh metric tonnes of onion has been procured for the buffer, which could be enhanced further, if situation demands, it added.
NAFED and NCCF had procured 1.50 lakh tonnes each of rabi onion during June and July from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. This year, irradiation of onion had also been taken up on pilot basis in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) with the objective of minimizing storage loss. About 1,000 tonnes had been irradiated and stored in controlled atmosphere storage.
The annual buffers have been built by procuring onions from rabi harvest for release in major consumption centres during the lean season. Onion buffer size has been tripled in past four years; from one lakh tonnes in 2020-21 to three lakh metric tonnes in 2023-24.
“The onion buffer has played a key role in ensuring availability of onion to the consumers at affordable prices and in maintaining price stability,” the ministry added.
Rabi onion harvested during April-June accounts for 65 per cent of India’s onion production and meets consumers’ demand till the kharif crop is harvested in October-November.