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Onion, potato bring tears

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 21: Potato and onion soup for dinner? How tempting. But the cost might sour the taste.

Potato, which sold between Rs 13 and 14 a kilo, is now selling for Rs 16 to 17. The price of onion, which used to be sold for around Rs 15-16, has climbed by around Rs 3 a kilo.

“Since potato and onion are essential ingredients for most dishes, we are feeling the pinch of the rise in their prices,” said Patitpaban Sahoo, a resident of the city.

The price of vegetables has gone up this month because of the increase in demand. People of the state generally observe the auspicious Kartik month (mid-October to mid-November) and avoid eating non-vegetarian food. The holy month will end next week.

Some traders blamed the increase in price on the excessive dependence on other states to meet the demand for potato and onion.

“We import potato from Bengal and the price of potato has increased there since Tuesday. Consequently, it has risen here as well,” said general secretary of Rajdhani Dainik Haat Byabasayi Mahasangh of Unit-I Daily Market Gayadhar Swain.

Sources said that though Odisha’s potato demand stands at five lakh tonnes a year, the state is only able to produce between 1.75 and 1.8 lakh tonnes. So, the state has to depend on Bengal for this important vegetable. The city’s requirement stands at 500 tonnes a day.

For onion, the state is heavily dependant on Nasik. But traders of the city said the onion from Nasik is yet to come to the state. At present, Odisha is depending on Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to meet its demand of onion. However, the recent cyclone in southern India has affected onion production.

“Onion from Nasik will arrive in the second week of December and the price of onion will remain high till then,” said Parshuram Sahoo, an onion trader. The city needs between 150 and 200 tonnes of onion on a daily basis. Consumers will have to wait for another one month for the prices to fall because locally-grown potato and onion is expected to hit the markets by then. A section of traders blamed the state government for not having an effective system to control the market price of these commodities along with lack of storage facilities .

“All the potato stocks in various storage points are almost finished. Retailers take advantage because the state government does not keep tabs on price rise,” said secretary of Kuberapuri Merchants’ Association, Sakti Mishra.