Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during the Lok Sabha's Winter session on Wednesday, said the onion price issue did not affect her much as she and her family didn't use this pungent vegetable bulb prominently on their diet. "I don't eat a lot of onions and garlic, so don't worry. I come from a family that doesn't care much for onions," she said. Her remarks came after an opposition leader made an interruption on the onion price issue while she was speaking about the same.
Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule asked the Finance Minister about increasing bad loans and problems being faced by onion farmers. "Why has the production of onion gone down? We export rice and milk and so many other products. Onion grower is a small framer and he really needs to be protected," Sule asked.
Sitharaman responded to her talking about her personal habits related to onions usage and spoke about what measures the government was taking to keep onion prices in check, including improving technology for better storage.
"I must say, from 2014, I have also been part of some of the group of ministers, which monitored the ups and downs in onion markets. Sometimes, when there was surplus of crop we have also facilitated by giving support to those people who want to export it. I have overnight past orders for helping with 5-7 per cent assistance for exporting," she said.
Attributing shortage to low production, the minister said there were severe structural problems related to onions.
"One is we don't have scientifically advanced methods of storing...So that is one of the things, so we need to have greater scientific storage facility for onions, we have started working on it...then also to give better storage capacities within that region particularly around Lasalgaon," she said.
Prices of onion in many places have crossed Rs 100 per kg because of lesser production. On Wednesday, the West Bengal government placed an order for 800 tonne of imported onions with the NAFED for delivery by December-end. Whereas in Odisha, onion prices have soared to Rs 120 a kg.