Onion production in kharif and late-kharif seasons of 2019-20 is estimated to fall 26% to 52.06 lakh tonne, putting pressure on supply and prices, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.
The all-India average retail price of onion stood at Rs 60.38 per kg on November 15, compared with Rs 22.84 per kg on the same date last year.
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, he said onion is a seasonal crop with harvesting period of rabi (March to June), kharif (October to December) and late-kharif (January-March). During July to October, the supply in the market comes from stored onions from rabi season.
"During 2019-20, there was a 3-4 weeks delay in sowing as well as decline in sown area of the kharif onion because of late arrival of monsoon. Further, untimely prolonged rains in the major growing states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh during the harvesting period caused damage to the standing crops in these regions," Paswan said.
As a result, the minister said the production of kharif crop was affected. The rains during September-October also hit transportation of crop from these producing regions to consuming centres, he said.
"This led to limited availability of kharif onions in the market and has put pressure on its prices," Paswan said.
During the current year, the production of kharif and late-kharif is estimated to be 52.06 lakh tonne, which is about 26% lower than the previous year's production of 69.91 lakh tonne in the same seasons, the minister said.
Paswan said the government has banned onion exports and imposed stock limits to boost domestic supply and check prices.