VEGETABLE prices have spun out of control, and what is happening to onion prices is just an example of what is happening across the food sector.
Citizens are paying up to Rs 80 a kilo for onions that sold at half the price just three days ago. The government has banned exports and traders are importing stocks from Pakistan, but prices continue to remain high. The Times of India reported that India was importing stocks that it had just sometime ago exported to Pakistan.
On December 21, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the government could do little more than wait and watch. Untimely rains have destroyed crops, leading to the increase in prices. But poor planning has added to the misery. As Mail Today reports, exports continued even when supply had declined.
A farmer in Bangalore told NDTV that the government should buy the stocks of Indian farmers first, and only then buy from Pakistan. Indian farmers have lost their crops and have run up debts, and the government needs to buy what is left if it has to save them from despair and suicide, he said.
In Lucknow, the retail price of onion was Rs 30 on December 19, but had shot up to Rs 50 on December 21. In Delhi and Bangalore, traders were quoting Rs 70 to Rs 80. In Chennai, prices hovered around Rs 60. The prices of other vegetables, like tomato, have risen too. In Bhubaneshwar, it cost Rs 30 on December 19. By December 21, vendors were asking for Rs 60.
Some experts say the price of onions could go up to Rs 100 in the next fortnight. The government has banned exports of onion till January 15.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the Congress plenary session on Monday that his government was aware of inflation, and had brought it down to seven per cent from over eight per cent in November. He promised to bring it down further to 5.5 per cent by March. But food prices are rising at a much higher rate. Figures for December are not available, but in earlier this year, food prices went up by nearly 18 per cent. The rate is certain to be much higher now.
Citizens are angry, and political observers say the UPA is lucky this is no election year. Food price inflation never goes unpunished when people are going out to vote. (in.yfittopost.blog.com)