Sikkim feels onion price hike

Gangtok, 02 Oct:

It has been more than 15 days now since onion prices shot upto Rs. 60–70 per kg in Gangtok and rest of the State. Prices across the country have gone up so much so that the Government had to ban export of onions last Sunday. According to media reports, onion prices are highest in nearly six years and reasons for this could be the extended monsoon showers which have delayed harvest of the summer-sown crop.

“The price of onions has skyrocketed this yearhampering sale which has reduced by 30–40%,” says Sunil Kumar Prasad, an onion whole sellerin LalMarket, Gangtok.

As per the local whole seller in Gangtok the onion price hike is due to low supply of onions from all major onion growing states as they have beenaffected by floods due to heavy rains.

Kharif crop which is sown in Jul-Aug is harvested in Oct-Dec and supplies the festive season but this year harvesting has been delayed due to extended monsoon rains.

“We don’t get onions directly from the growers. We get it through a wholesale mandi in West Bengal and prices have gone up there,” said another whole seller, Ashok Kumar.

Whole sellers inform that there is no shortage in supply but demand has gone down due to the price hike.

One whole seller said that onions are being imported from neighboring Bangladesh, which may be the prime reason for the price hike.

Onion prices have shot up not only in Gangtok but all parts of the state as all onion supplies to Sikkim come from West Bengalmandi. Major markets around Gangtok like Deorali, Tadong, Lal Market and others, are selling onion for Rs 60 or more per kg.

As per information provided by the local onion whole seller in Gangtok, the wholesale price of onion has touched Rs 4,800 per quintal (as per the Lal Market’s wholesale market data), recording a hike of about Rs 1,000 per quintal.

The hike in onion prices is the highest in the past two years and in the past six months alone, onion prices have gone up by almost Rs 30–40 per kg, saymembers of the traders association at Lal Bazaar in Gangtok.

General Manager, Sikkim State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation limited (SIMFED),Jiwan Sharma says that SIMFED cannot directly control the market price of various commodities but can offer some relief to consumers.

“In such a situation, SIMFED tries to make the particular item available for the consumer at very reasonable rates with almost no profit margin,” hesays.

Deorali shop owner, Ranjit Prasad Gupta said that he usually sells 6 to 8 bags of onion that is 300 to 400 kg of onions a month but it has now gone down to 2–3 bags a month i.e just 100 to 300kgs a month.

Whole seller Sunil Kumar Prasad says that like in other states, the State Government should intervene and provide onions at subsidized ratesin the interest of the general public.

Consumer, Neeta Bhutia shares that onion prices are so high thatpeople have started using it in a controlled manner.

“Onion is the key ingredient in the kitchen so we cannot stop using it but can control how much to use. Government intervention is much needed in controlling and monitoring prices,” she adds.