One kilo onions priced at eye-watering Rs 150

Kathmandu, November 5

The price of onions, commonly used in most Nepali dishes, surged to Rs 150 per kilogram in the local market today, as the supply of the vegetable has dropped significantly after India halted its export.

According to the price list of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, onion price has surged 50 per cent compared to its retail price of approximately Rs 100 per kg before Tihar.

Price of onions had started to surge in October after India banned its export citing sharp reduction in onion production due to heavy rainfall. Before the ban, onions were available in the domestic market for Rs 70 per kg. Since India is the largest supplier of onions to Nepal, the export ban pushed up its prices here.

After the Indian ban, Nepal started to import onions from China.

But Nepalis do not prefer Chinese onions because of their taste and quality, said Bharat Aryal, a vegetables trader at Kalimati market. “Although the Chinese onions are bigger, Indian and Nepali onions taste better. The Chinese produce is not popular even with hotels and restaurants that purchase large quantities of the vegetable,” he said.

This has resulted in the rise of illegal import of Indian onions, he added.

According to Tejendra Prasad Poudel, executive director of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, the onion supply declined significantly after the Indian ban.

As per the board’s record, the weekly supply of onions to the Kalimati market dropped to 330,430 kg from 466,816 kg before the ban.

“The supply slightly recovered between Dashain and Tihar, resulting in a dip in price of onions,” said Poudel, adding the supply has dropped again resulting in the surge in price.

Indian media has quoted analysts as saying that onion prices will not stabilise until February when the next batch of harvest hits the market.

This means onion prices will remain high in Nepal as well, Aryal said. “As Nepal is dependent on India for onions, the price will drop only after India increases onion supply after the new harvest,” he added.

Residents of Kathmandu valley consume around 10 tonnes of onions a day.