The retail selling price of big onions in Chennai’s vegetable markets stood at around Rs 120 per kilogram on Wednesday, a 150% hike in one month.

At Rs 120 per kg for onions TN turns to rationing abstinence and moreImage for representation/PTI
news Price rise Wednesday, November 27, 2019 - 17:38

A trip to a vegetable market in Chennai will leave your wallet a little lighter with the price of vegetables, especially onions soaring over the last few days. 

‘Ballary’ onion or big onion is a favorite in most food items made in Tamil households, especially in non-vegetarian dishes. However, the recent price rise has forced people to desist from buying onions. The city’s retail markets have been selling big onions at Rs 120 per kilogram. The rate is high when considering the fact that on October 27, the selling price of one kilogram of big onions was Rs 48.  That’s a jump of 150% in just a month.

This unprecedented price increase of the vegetable is changing appetites in Chennai’s households and hotels. While many have started rationing the quantity of onions used in their daily consumption, many others have started searching for dishes which do not need onion as an ingredient. A lot of them have also started hunting for places where they can buy onions at a bargain. 

Speaking to TNM, Dheeraj B, a software professional in Chennai recommends self-rationing as a way out of burning a deep hole in one’s pockets. “We are buying half a kilo where we usually buy one kilo of onions,” he says, adding that avoiding dishes that involve a lot of onions is also something he and his wife follow to tide over the price rise. 

For Baskar*, a Chennai-based content writer, the way out of the crisis is to buy higher quantities of onions from wholesale market and store it. “Even then it costs about Rs 60 per kg. The meat-eaters in the apartment are the one who are suffering a lot. They save their onions and garlic for weekend alone,” he says. He also points out that hotels and roadside shops have started to reduce the quantity of onions used in the food sold, in order to protect their profits. “We don’t get enough onions in omelets or burjies these days,” he adds.

Hotels using less onions in dishes

R Srinivasan, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Hotels Association told TNM that the restaurants across the state have been affected by the steep prices of onions in the market and hence have reduced the use of the vegetable in the dishes. “We have requested the government to intervene and stop the hike in onion prices and hope that the government will do the needful at the earliest. Meanwhile, we are not contemplating an increase in the prices of food items sold in hotels. We are expecting the prices to fall soon,” he said. 

Floods in Maharashtra a major cause

According to an official from the Tamil Nadu’s Department of Agriculture, the state does not have prominent belts that produce big onions. “We have massive quantities of small onions coming in from Trichy-Ariyalur-Perambalur belt and Tirunelveli belt, but for big onions, we are substantially dependent on Maharashtra,” he says. 

The massive floods in Maharashtra have caused a drastic fall in the output of onions, which has pumped up the prices. “The demand is increasing day by day. But the supply is not matching up to it, mainly due to the floods. Hence the price has shot up,” says the official. He also adds that onions need complete dryness from sowing to harvesting and hence floods will affect the growth itself adversely. 

However, the official says that the price fluctuation is seasonal and hence it will get back to normal in a few days’ time. 

*Name changed upon request

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