New Delhi, Jan 21 (Agencies): The new Food and Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas exuded confidence that onion prices will come down as he reviewed the food prices scenario with top level officials on Friday. He also said that steps will be taken to augment supply of milk and milk products.

"Onion prices will be brought under control in the next 15 days," the minister told reporters after the meeting attended by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu, Secretary in the Food Ministry and his counterparts and other   concerned ministries.

The government also decided to convene a meeting of food ministers in February to review the steps taken by the states to control prices and also to evolve a mechanism to check
hoarding of essential commodities.

Food inflation stood at 15.52 per cent for the week ended January 8, mainly contributed by rise in prices of vegetables, milk and poultry products.

The government said the prices of onion would come down as a result of fresh arrivals. Besides, out of the contracted 1,000 tonnes of imported onions, 300 tonnes have already
arrived and another 426 tonne is on the way, it added.

Onion prices on Friday softened from the two-day old price of Rs 50-65/kg in the four metros to Rs 30-45 a kg in all metros except Chennai, where the vegetable is still being sold at Rs 60 per kg due to shortage of supplies.

"It was decided in the meeting that Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF) along with National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) will take steps to improve supply situation of milk and milk products and DADF will also keep the stocks under constant monitoring," according to the statement issued after the meeting.

The Centre also decided to formulate a scheme to strengthen the State Civil Supplies Corporations as this would help the government in market intervention during price rise.
That apart, Thomas will chair four regional conferences of Food Ministers and secretaries next month to review measures taken by state governments on the price front.