New Delhi: About 25,000 tonnes of onions, or 25 per cent of the surplus stock created to maintain supply in times of scarcity, could damage this year, NAFED has said.
SK Chadha, managing director of NAFED, a state-owned co-operative marketing federation, said onions have a lifespan of three and a half months. Then the water inside the onion runs out and spoils. We have been buying onions from March-April for the remaining stock. So far, NAFED has launched 43,000 tonnes of onions. Another 22,000 tonnes of onions will be launched in the first week of November.
The remaining 25,000 tons of onions will deteriorate due to lack of moisture. To control onion prices, the government started stockpiling onions from last year. Another official said 57,000 tonnes of onions were stockpiled last year. Of this, 30,000 tonnes of onions were damaged. Only 27,000 tons of onions could be distributed.
This time the situation is better. We will stock 1 lakh tonnes of onions. Out of this, only 25,000 tonnes of onions are likely to be damaged. Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Lakshadweep had demanded 35,000 tonnes after onion prices skyrocketed in the country. Onion is supplied by NAFED at the rate of Rs. 26 per kg plus transport cost.
Onion prices are expected to fall by the first week of November, an official said. The government has relaxed onion import rules. Government marketing agency MMTC has also been asked to invite tenders for red onion imports. Meanwhile, the government has claimed that the price of onion is declining by Rs 10 per kg across the country.
The government has asked NAFED to create new balance sheets. Accordingly, NAFED has started buying onions for the new season. “We are updating the stock throughout the year,” a senior official said. Old stocks are marketed and new stocks are made.