The ‘pink vegetable’ is likely to continue bringing tears in Bengal’s households, as the onion prices are unlikely to return to normal before mid- December. With the price per kg of onions in the city markets touching the century mark, it has burnt holes in the pockets of the middle-class, who have not only cut down on the consumption of the vegetable, but are also looking for alternatives.

The skyrocketing prices have also brought difficulties for some renowned restaurants. Many eateries in the city’s food hubs at Dacres Lane, Park Street, New Market and Gariahat are struggling to find better options to replace the vegetable. The yearly demand for onion in our state is 9.5 lakh metric tonnes or 80,000kg per month, according to a member of the task force responsible for keeping a check on onion prices at the city markets.

The total production of onion in our state is sufficient to meet only about seven per cent of the demand. The districts cultivating onions in the state are Nadia, North 24-Parganas, Hooghly, Malda, East and West Midnapore, Murshidabad and Burdwan. However, the local varieties will be available in the markets only by the month of January. Maximum percentage of the state’s demand is met from the varieties brought from Nasik.

The shortage of onion supply from Nasik, according to Chandan Chakraborty, working president of Posta Bazar Merchants’ Association, is also because of the ongoing political turmoil in Maharashtra. “The rate of onion per kg in Nasik wholesale markets itself was rupees 90 per kg. To resolve the crisis, onions from three other states are being brought to the state and things are likely to become better.

While some stock from Nasik, which fell short for some time, is being brought, varieties from Alwar in Rajasthan and Belari from Karnataka will also reach the city in the next few days. The price of the vegetable in the wholesale markets of Nasik has come down to rupees 60 from day before yesterday. Once the stock reaches the city, it will bring some respite to the people,” said Rabindranath Koley, a member of the state government’s task force. As of now, around 30 trucks of onions have reached the city from Akola and Nasik.

As informed by the member of the task force team, some malpractices have been found in the city markets, but those are being addressed by keeping a strict vigil on the sale and purchase of the vegetable in the markets. Although some respite might be expected with the arrival of the supply from the three states, the price of onions, is however, far from returning to normal before mid-December.

“Some onions have been brought from the state of Rajasthan by the agriculture marketing department and are being sold at rupees 59 per kg per head at the state government’s ‘Sufal Bangla’ stalls. Normal supply of the Nasik variety will take around one month’s time,” informed Mr Abdur Razzak Molla, state minister for Food Processing Industries and Horticulture.