Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that the government is procuring onions at ₹2,410 per quintal in order to ensure that the farmers get maximum benefits. His statement comes a day after the ministry of consumer affairs increased the quantum of onion buffer to five lakh metric from three lakh metric tonne this year.

According to Goyal, more onions will be procured from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, as and when required. In a notification, the department of consumer says that the nodal agencies-- NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation) of India and NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd)--have been directed to procure one lakh tonne each to achieve the additional procurement target alongside calibrated disposal of the procured stocks in major consumption centres.

The onion disposals from the buffer have commenced, targeting major markets in states and union territories where retail prices are above the all-India average and/or are significantly higher than the previous month, according to the ministry.

"As on date, about 1,400 MT of onions from the buffer has been dispatched to the targeted markets and are being continuously released to augment the availability," says the government.

"The multipronged measures taken by the Government onion like procurement for the buffer, targeted release of stocks and imposition of export duty will benefit the farmers and consumers by assuring remunerative prices to the onion farmers while ensuring continuous availability to the consumers at affordable prices," it adds.

On Monday, the government announced that apart from releasing in major markets, onions from the buffer are also being made available to retail consumers at a subsidised rate of ₹25 per kg through retail outlets and mobile vans of NCCF from August 21.

"Retail sale of onion will be suitably enhanced in coming days by involving other agencies and e-commerce platforms,” says the government.

Notably, earlier this month, the Centre slashed the retail price of tomatoes sold through NCCF and NAFED.

In its monthly bulletin for August, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that the headline inflation is expected to average well above 6% in the second quarter with the unprecedented shock of higher tomato prices spilling over to prices of other vegetables.

India's retail inflation surged to a 15-month high of 7.44% in July from 4.87% in June, breaching the Reserve Bank of India’s 6% upper tolerance limit. Inflation in the food and beverages group more than doubled to 10.6% in July from 4.7% in June led by high vegetable prices. Inflation also edged up in cereals, meat and fish, fruits, pulses, sugar and spices. On the other hand, inflation in eggs, milk and prepared meals softened while the rate of deflation in edible oils eased.

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