Wholesale onions rates fell to as low as Rs 5 per kg in the national capital today on the back of improved supply, but retail prices of the vegetable remained high at Rs 40 a kg.
Onions were being sold at Rs 5-20 per kg in Azadpur mandi -- Asia's biggest wholesale fruit and vegetables market, traders said.
They added it will take a few days for the fall in prices to reflect in retail markets. The retail prices have been hovering at the level of Rs 40 a kg for the past four to five days.
"There is no shortage in supply of onions in the Azadpur market now, as a result of which the price has gone down significantly," Delhi Agricultural Marketing Board Chairman Brahm Yadav said, adding that crisis is fast dissipating.
Onion wholesale rates touched Rs 65/kg in the last week of December, moving consumers to tears. Retail prices had hit the roof at Rs 70-85 a kg at that time in Delhi and other metros.
Rising prices of onion and other vegetables like tomato had flared the food inflation up to a high of 18.32 per cent for the week ended December 25.
The government, which faced criticism over high food prices, took various measures to rein in price rise, including removal of import duty on onion and a ban on exports of the commodity. The rate of price rise of food articles slipped to a level of 15.52 per cent in the first week of January.
Onion prices have dropped in Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, the main onion markets at Nashik, the main producing area, as well.
Onions were available at Rs 13 a kg in Lasalgaon today, the National Horticultural Research Development Foundation (NHRDF) -- which publishes daily wholesale rates of the vegetable in prominent cities -- said.
Similarly, onion wholesale prices fell to Rs 14/kg at Pimpalgaon today, the NHRDF said.
The drop is significant as wholesale rates in these markets stood at Rs 17/kg and Rs 18/kg yesterday.
The sharp fall in prices has, however, triggered another problem as onion farmers in Nashik, Maharashtra, yesterday staged an agitation in front of the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee's offices to protest low prices.
Rajendra Sharma, the General Secretary of the Onion Merchants Association in the Azadpur market told PTI that wholesale prices of good quality onions are expected to fall to Rs 15/kg by the end of January and Rs 10/kg in February.
New Food Minister K V Thomas had said recently that onion prices will improve from end-January.
Meanwhile, a total of 750 tonnes of onion out of the 1,000 tonnes imported by the government from Pakistan to boost domestic supply have reached the national capital so far.
The remaining 250 tonnes are on the way from the Mundra Port in Gujarat and they are expected to reach here in the next 3-4 days, official sources said.
The government has been under fire over rising prices, especially of food items. Besides onion, prices of vegetables like tomato have put the government in a tight spot.