The Department of Consumer Affairs has decided to commence the release of stocks from the onion buffer of 3.00 lakh metric tonne created this year. Shri Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Department took a meeting with the Managing Directors of NAFED and NCCF on 10.08.2023 and finalized the modalities for the disposal.
It was decided to release the onion stocks by targeting key markets in states or regions where retail prices are ruling above the all-India average and also where the rates of increase in prices over the previous month and year are above the threshold level. Disposal through e-auction and retail sales on e-commerce platforms are also being explored.
The quantity and pace of disposal will also be calibrated with the prices and availability situations with the objective of making onion available to consumers at affordable prices. Apart from market disposal, it was also decided to offer to the States at discounted rates for sale through retail outlets of their consumer cooperatives and corporations.
In the current year, a total of 3.00 lakh metric tonne of onion has been procured for the buffer, which could be enhanced further, if the situation demands. The two central nodal agencies, viz., NAFED and NCCF had procured 1.50 lakh metric tonne each of rabi onion during June and July from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
This year, irradiation of onion had also been taken up on a pilot basis in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) with the objective of minimizing storage loss. About 1,000 MT had been irradiated and stored in controlled atmosphere storage.
The Government has been maintaining an onion buffer under the Price Stabilisation Fund to check the volatility in prices of onion. The annual buffers have been built by procuring onions from rabi harvest for release in major consumption centres during the lean season. Onion buffer size has been tripled in past four years; from 1.00 lakh metric tonne in 2020-21 to 3.00 lakh metric tonne in 2023-24. The onion buffer has played a key role in ensuring the availability of onion to consumers at affordable prices and in maintaining price stability.