We tear when we cut onions. But Nepalis are now shedding tears ‘for’ onions!
This is no sarcasm, considering the skyrocketing prices of onions across the country, currently at NPR 230/kilo.
After being priced NPR 200/kilo on November 25, 2019, the prices went up NPR 30/kilo in a single day, touching the record high of NPR 230/kilo.
The reason is lack of supply after India stopped exporting the vegetable to the Himalayan nation. Nepal has 98% of its onion demand met by Indian imports.
The price of onion has been on a rising trend since two months as India imposed ban on export of its onions citing low harvest.
Responding to the situation, government authorities are literally suggesting consumers to stop consuming onions.
“The import of onion has almost stopped. Smuggled onion is not enough to meet the soaring demand in the domestic market. Our domestic production is paltry. Against this context, we can do nothing except to ask consumers to stop or lessen onion consumption,” says Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board.
Shrestha explains that there are only 35 tons of onions available in the country now against the usual demand of 270 tons in Kathmandu alone.
He says increasing domestic production is the only short and long-term strategy to curtail the shortage or sudden price hikes of onion.
“Imports are always costlier. Now, we need to learn a lesson from this situation to focus on production of onion in our own country and be self-reliant,” Shrestha adds.
While Chinese onions are an option, Nepali traders won’t prefer them. “Chinese onions are larger in size and have a lot of water portion in them. The taste of Chinese onions is not preferred by Nepali people,” says a vegetable supplier.
Looking at the scenario, one of the households admits that she has completely stopped using onions and looking for alternatives, as they don’t see any scope of price control.