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Onion price deals a blow to family purse

The spiralling onion price has made Sudeshna Chatterjee’s trip to her local market a shock over the past three weeks.

“To buy one kilogram of onion I am paying what I used to pay for three kilos last year,” the homemaker in her mid-30s said at Salt Lake’s CA market, where onion was being sold for Rs 33 a kg on Monday.

Unfavourable weather in Nasik in Maharashtra, the principal producer of onion in the country, has caused the price to go through the roof.

Compared with the same period last year, the price has risen threefold.

“Onion is an important ingredient in any dish you prepare. So one has to buy it more frequently than other products. The price rise is eating into the monthly budget,” said Shreya Ghosh, a resident of BB Ganguly Street in central Calcutta.

The hike has also forced a rejig of the ingredients used by fast food shops. One such popular outlet on Park Street has increased the amount of cucumber and capsicum in rolls, vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian, to compensate for the missing onion. “We do not want to increase the price so we decided to cut down on onion,” said a helping hand at the shop.

The onion price has been moving northwards since the beginning of January, when it ranged between Rs 14 and Rs 16 a kg.

A survey by Metro on Monday revealed that onion was being sold at more than Rs 30 a kg at all major markets and convenience stores. At Spencer’s in Axis Mall and Salt Lake’s CA market, the price was Rs 33 a kg. At the Spencer’s outlet in Mani Square and Food Bazaar in Sealdah, it was Rs 32.

“During the same period last year, the price was as low as Rs 10 a kg,” said Prabhat Kumar Das, the general secretary of Maniktala Bazaar Byabasayik Samiti.

At Das’s market, Monday’s onion price was Rs 30 a kg.

Ninety per cent of Bengal’s consumption of onion comes from Nasik, where production in the last season declined by 40 per cent because of unfavourable weather.

Apart from Bengal, many states in India and even Bangladesh and Pakistan are dependent on the Nasik onion.

“Our business associates in Nasik have told us that production has dropped by 40 per cent because of severe shortage of water,” said a spokesperson for the Posta Onion Merchants’ Association.

“Earlier we used to get five trainloads of onion every week. Now we are getting only three and at times even less,” said the spokesperson.

A rake carries close to 40,000 packets of 45kg each.