New Delhi, Jan 18 (Agencies): Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said his ministry had no direct role in cultivation of perishable items and was mainly concerned with cereals and sugarcane.

 "Union Agriculture ministry is concerned with production of foodgrains like rice, wheat, sugarcane and pulses and does not have any direct role in cultivation of vegetables... farmers themselves decide which crop to grow seeing the local conditions and which mandi to sell," he told reporters, here. He, however, said onion prices have started coming down with increase in arrival from from Bhavnagar in Gujarat and Nashik (in Maharashtra).

 Despite the slide in wholesale rate of onion in Delhi's Azadpur market, Asia's biggest fruits & vegetables market, the retail prices remained high at Rs 50-60 a kg.

In the last six days, the wholesale price of onion has dipped by Rs 18 a kg in Azadpur market. The wholesale rate of onion which had zoomed to Rs 50 a kg on January 13 has come down to Rs 32 per kg today, traders said.

 The scene was no better in other metros where the root vegetable was available for Rs 50-65 a kg in retail.  Along with onion, another important vegetable tomato also showed rising trend in the metros where retail prices today were in the range of Rs 50-60 a kg.

The food inflation still remains high at 16.91 per cent for the week ended January 1 on account of high prices of vegetables, milk and meat.

Pawar said taking lessons from the ongoing onion crisis, "the ministry will provide subsidy to farmers to build green houses for cultivation of vegetables in 20-25 km radius around
townships having population of about five lakh."