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Onion crisis hits India

Vineet Khare Dec 23, 2010
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Onion crisis hits India

Vineet Khare Dec 23, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

STACEY VANEK SMITH: There is an onion crisis in India. Onions are a primary ingredient in the making of the all important curry dish. Prices have more than doubled in the last few days. The government blames heavy rains and has banned onion exports to try and help the problem.

The BBC’s Vineet Khare has more.


VINEET KHARE: In India, high onion prices have kicked politicians out of office in the past. The sharp upswing in its prices – from under a dollar per kg a few days back to almost $two now – has impacted everyone, especially the poor. People say they have cut down on dishes which require onions. Shoppers at a vegetable market in Dadar in Mumbai were angry with the government. A woman who identifies herself as Mrs. Chindarkar said she has had to change her shopping habits.

Mrs. Chindarkar: I regularly come here so that I can get a little bit cheaper in this wholesale market, but this is too much here also the rates are the same. We used to buy in bulk, now we buy in the small quantities.

The government on its part says it has taken measures like cracking down on hoarders, stopping exports of onions, removing customs duty on its import and selling onions at cheaper rates at selected outlets, but the ground situation hasn’t changed much. It will take two to three weeks for the prices to come down. Meanwhile, chefs and cookbook writers are giving tips on how to cope without onions.

In Mumbai, I am the BBC’s Vineet Khare for Marketplace.

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