Onion, pulses, edible oil prices surge in February


Wholesale onion prices this month are ruling 25% to 30% higher than in January. Prices of pulses and wholesale edible oil, too, have increased helped by government measures to boost farmers’ income such as import restrictions and procurement at minimum support prices.

Prices of masur (lentil) and urad have increased by 10% over January, while tur prices have jumped 20% during the same period. Wholesale edible oil prices have increased 30% to 60% for different oils year on year this year.

Loss of yield caused by excessive rainfall has increased prices of onions and pulses, while edible oil prices have been ruling at all time high due to shortages in the international supply chain, trade experts said.

The prices are not expected to cool down at least for a month for onions and till June/July for edible oils, they said.

“Due to compelling international factors, edible oil prices are expected to remain strong till the end of March,” said BV Mehta, executive director of industry body Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA).

According to data compiled by SEA, the year-on-year increase in wholesale prices for February is 36% for refined soyabean oil, 39% for refined cottonseed oil, 43% for refined rice bran oil, 68% for refined sunflower oil, and 29% for refined groundnut oil.

The month-on-month increase in edible oil prices in February over January is 5% for refined cottonseed oil, 3% for refined soyabean oil, 5% for refined rice bran oil, 10% for refined sunflower oil, and 5% for refined groundnut oil.

Rapeseed oil prices are up 45% year on year and down 2% month on month. Refined palm oil prices are up 53% year on year and up 11% month on month.

The benefit of higher prices will go to the farmers as it is the arrival season for most rabi crops, experts said.

For the first time, wholesale onion prices are ruling at a high of Rs 40/kg in the month of February at the Lasalgaon APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee), the largest wholesale mandi for onions in the country.

Retail onion prices are ruling in the range of Rs 30 to Rs 70 per kg at different markets in the country.

“The excessive rainfall during and after the monsoon season damaged the nurseries of onion, reducing the per acre productivity of the crop,” said Danish Shah, a Maharashtra-based onion exporter. “Inferior quality seeds also resulted in reducing the production of kharif and late kharif crop,” he said.

“The arrivals of rabi onion will increase only after mid-March, while the prices will continue to remain firm till end of March,” Shah said.

The erratic weather has also affected the yield of tur (pigeon pea), resulting in a jump of at least 20% in the price or whole unpolished tur. “The ex-mill tur prices are around Rs 100/kg and are expected to move upward as the arrivals are tepid,” said Nitin Kalantry, a processor of pulses from Maharashtra.

The policies of the central government to ensure that farmers get minimum support price (MSP) without the government requiring to procure huge quantities has helped support pulses prices to MSP levels.

Masur prices have increased by 10% in February over the previous month, while urad prices have increased by 4% during the same period.

“No new import of pulses will take place till March,” said Rahul Chauhan, director at commodity market research firm IGrain India. “Prices of urad will remain strong till June as the crop in neighbouring Myanmar is low on account of diversion of urad area to moong, to cater to the Chinese demand for moong,” he said.

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