Onion priced at record high of Rs 230 per kg, a 318 pc surge in three months

Kathmandu, November 26

The average retail price of onion hit a record high of Rs 230 per kg in the domestic market today.

According to the price list maintained by Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, onion price has surged by tear-inducing 318 per cent over the last three months. Three months back, onion was traded at Rs 55 per kg. The wholesale price of onion, meanwhile, was set at Rs 200 per kg today.

The price of onion started to surge in October after India banned its export, citing sharp drop in onion production due to heavy rainfall.

“Almost 95 per cent of market demand for onions used to be fulfilled by importing the vegetable from India,” said Prem Lal Maharjan, president of Nepal Consumer Forum, explaining the eye-watering rise in price of the vegetable that is used in most Nepali dishes. “The price of onion went up earlier too, in tandem with fluctuation in price in India, but this time it has set a new record.”

Maharjan added that the soaring price of onion and its shortage were a result of lack of timely decision by the government.

“Though the government needs to take measures to reduce prices of essential goods and fulfil market demand, it seems to be indifferent towards such situations,” he said. “This could be a lesson for the government to take the initiative to focus on raising vegetable productivity and production.”

Maharjan said people should change their eating habits and cut down on onion consumption. Citing the example of

Bangladeshi prime minister’s decision to stop consuming onion, he said Nepalis could cut on onion consumption instead of paying high prices.

As India is the largest supplier of onions in South Asia, almost all countries in the region have been suffering from shortage of onions and its skyrocketing prices.

Nepal also imports onions from China and Namibia. According to the Department of Customs, a total of 281,720 kg fresh onions worth Rs 140 million were imported from China in the first three months of this fiscal (mid-July to mid-October), while 12,000 kg fresh onions worth Rs 387,000 were imported from Namibia in the same period.

From India, a total of 360 million kg onions worth Rs 1.34 billion were imported in the first three months of the current fiscal before the ban was announced, while in the same period of the last fiscal 397 million kg onions worth Rs 1.27 billion were imported.

Onion price in India doubled to INR 100 per kilo in October and November this year compared to INR 45 to INR 50 per kg in the corresponding months last year.

According to Agricultural Statistics Report 2018-19 published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, 239,024 tonnes of onions were produced in the country in the last fiscal.