Infostani International- Chopping onions brings tears to many people, but the skyrocketing prices these days leave numerous consumers with teary eyes.
Onions Price Surge Sparks Concerns: Export Policies and Domestic Shortages Cause Distress in Local Markets
The cost of onions has surged from Rs180/kg a month ago to Rs200, and most recently, it reached Rs240/kg on Monday. Buyers at vegetable stalls express that onions are an indispensable ingredient in local cuisines, with a homemaker, Jamila Mirza, noting that it’s challenging to prepare a curry without onions. Despite its culinary importance, soaring prices are causing distress among consumers.
Vegetable vendor Imran Meo notes that even the most economically disadvantaged individuals, who used to consume bread with onions, now find it expensive, as a single medium-sized onion costs Rs30. According to him, the main vegetable market is scarce at Superhighway, and he attributes the shortage to large-scale exports of onions from Pakistan, where major corporations are capitalizing on foreign markets.
A survey by The Express Tribune discloses that the local market is grappling with a shortage due to significant onion exports from Pakistan. Rather than imposing a ban on onion exports, the Ministry of Commerce has opted to increase export prices, resulting in a Rs40 surge in retail prices, now standing at Rs240 per kg.
Market sources reveal that while India has prohibited onion exports to ensure domestic availability at affordable rates, Pakistan is exporting onions and simultaneously importing them from Turkey, leading to a loss of foreign exchange. Large exporters are taking advantage of the situation, causing a shortage by exporting onions under the pretext of supporting farmers while benefiting financially from the exports.
Impacts of the Ministry of Commerce’s Export Price Hike: Onion Hoarding and Escalating Prices
The Ministry of Commerce’s decision to raise the export price from US$750 to US$1200 per ton has prioritized exporters’ financial interests over the people’s concerns about inflation. This move has intensified onion hoarding, severely limiting the supply to the retail market.
Sources in the vegetable market assert that onion exports do not benefit the farmers, as onions have been stored in hoarders’ warehouses for weeks. Onions purchased from farmers are now being sold at discounted prices. The increased export price only favors exporters with capital and existing export orders, allowing them to purchase stored onions. Small exporters are not reaping the benefits, leading to a continuous surge in onion prices in the vegetable market due to intense competition among exporters. Consumers are urging the government to promptly ban onion exports and regulate local onion prices.