Bengaluru: If you find too many onion pieces in your food at a north Indian restaurant in Karnataka, don't be surprised. A kilogram of onion costs just a rupee at wholesale markets in the state!
The onion price has hit rock-bottom in the last one week and the growers are literally crying in Karnataka, one of the largest producers of India's most essential vegetable.
The onion is selling at Rs 100 for a bag of 100 kilograms in Hubli, Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag, Bagalkote, Belgaum, Davanagere and Chitradurga wholesale markets. A week ago, the price was about Rs 500 per quintal and it crashed to Rs 200 a day later.
The free fall of onion price has triggered panic across onion growing districts of Belgaum, Bijapur, Bagalkote, Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag, Davanagere, Chitradurga and others.
According to farmer leaders, there has been a sudden arrival of large quantity of onion from across Karnataka and Maharashtra in the market, leading to price crash.
"The output has been good across Karnataka this year. The farmers have brought the crop to market. But the price is too low. They can't recover even their transportation charge, forget the cultivation cost," said a farmer from Dharwad district.
Karnataka exports most of its onion to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Kerala and northern states. The truckers had stopped plying to Tamil Nadu because of Cyclone Gaja for over a week, resulting in price crash in Karnataka.
"It may take a few more days to resume onion supply to Tamil Nadu. Left with no other options, some farmers are selling onion for just Re 1 per kilo," said a trader from Hubli.
In north Indian markets, Karnataka competes with Maharashtra onion and over 40,000 bags of onions from the western state have arrived in Rajasthan's Alwar market, nearly 166 km from Delhi, on Monday further pushing the price down, claims another trader.
The farmer associations have asked state and Centre to come to the rescue of hapless growers immediately. "Whenever onion price goes up, the media covers it like tsunami. It happens once in five years may be. Onion price crashes every year forcing many farmers to end their lives. Sadly, no media covers it and the government does nothing," said a veteran farmer leader C Narasimhappa.
The lack of storage facilities and proper guidance to farmers are said to be the main reasons for onion price crash as the growers can't hoard their produces for a longer period.