The Centre on Friday exuded confidence that retail prices of staples such as onions and essential items like edible oils will come down further in the next few weeks. This is set to provide the much-needed relief to consumers during the festive season.

In the case of onions, food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the new harvest will start hitting the market soon. This will cap the price increase, and in the case of edible oils, states will start imposing stock limits next week. Reduction in duties will start showing results, all of which will provide relief to consumers, he added.

“Already, there has been a softening in edible oil prices and once new imported consignments come, prices will go down further,” said Pandey.

The Centre estimates onion production in the kharif season to be around 4.38 million tonnes. This is around 17 per cent more than the same period last year.

Pandey also discounted the possibility of immediate ban on onion exports, saying that prices haven’t crossed the threshold limit and steps are being taken to further cool them down.

Onion prices in the retail markets have risen by almost 45 per cent since early October in Delhi’s markets. This is over fears that heavy late monsoon in major growing states damaged the standing kharif crop.

However, data provided by the Centre shows that standing crops, in around 15 per cent of the sown area, have been damaged in the recent rains.

Pandey also said the average onion price was ruling at Rs 41.5 per kg on October 21, 2021, much lower than Rs 55.6 per kg in the year-ago period.

He said already more than 81,000 tonnes of onion from the buffer stock was released in the market, where rates are rising at a fast pace. This will improve availability and control prices, he added.

Of the record 2 lakh tonnes of onion buffer stock created by the Centre, about 1 lakh tonnes is still available for market intervention.

The Centre is offering buffer onions at Rs 21 per kg ex-storage location, and at Rs 26/kg to Mother Dairy Safal outlets in Delhi. So far, 400 tonnes have been supplied to Safal.

On edible oils, Pandey said data shows that in the last few weeks there has been a decline in retail prices, which is sharper than the global fall.

He added that this shows that steps taken by the Centre to scrap basic Customs duty and empower states to impose stock limits are yielding results.

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