To give relief to Delhiites, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed) has started selling onions at Rs 55 a kg through its five retail outlets and two mobile vans in the national capital.

In a bid to increase local supplies and curb rising prices of onions, the government on August 14 fixed a minimum export price of USD 650 per tonne for the commodity and asked Nafed to import onions.

Following the government's directions, sources said Nafed has started enquiring about supplies and prices in the global markets, including Pakistan and Iran. The cooperative is expected to gather all the information from trade channel partners by Saturday, they added.

The tender for onion imports is likely to be floated early next week, sources said. Besides Pakistan and Iran, Nafed is exploring the option of buying onions from China and Egypt.

Meanwhile, onion wholesale prices eased by about Rs 2 at the Lasalgaon in Nashik to Rs 44 a kg on increased arrivals, according to data maintained by the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF).

"Traders at Lasalgaon market are still selling onions at high prices as their sales have not been affected," NHRDF Director RP Gupta said.

At Azadpur mandi in Delhi, onion prices remain at the previous level of Rs 50-55 per kg. "Onion supply is normal today. Around 12,000 quintals have arrived in the market but prices are still high due to speculation," Onion Merchant Traders Association president Surendra Budhiraj said.

India exported 6.39 lakh tonnes of onions during April-July of this fiscal year, compared with 6.94 lakh tones in the year-ago period. Production stood at 16.6 million tonnes in 2012-13.

1,000 onion outlets in Delhi from Saturday

Onions at a nominal price will be available from Saturday through 1,000 outlets, including 600 mobile vans, an official statement said on Friday.

"Sheila Dikshit government is facilitating sale of onions at reasonable prices across Delhi at no-profit no-loss basis. From August 17, the sale would start at about 1,000 points across the city," said the statement.

Sheila Dikshit on Friday held a meeting with Food and Supplies Minister Haroon Yusuf, Delhi Development Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan, Chairman of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) Bijender Singh, Chief Secretary DM Spolia and other senior officials to discuss ways to curb the rising onion prices.

The price of onions in the wholesale market is Rs 50 a kg, but it ranged between Rs 60 and Rs 80 a kg in retail stores. Dikshit directed all departments concerned to keep a close eye on the prices and availability of essential commodities including onions, pulses, sugar, tomatoes and potatoes. She also told officials to take strict action against hoarders and black-marketers.

(JPN/Agencies)

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