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Floods in India affect price of onions in UAE

onion, onion price, uae, floods, indian onions

Abu Dhabi - There are cheaper alternatives in the market from Egypt at Dh2.5 but people still prefer Indian onion.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 5 Oct 2019, 11:43 PM

Onion prices in the UAE market are such that eyes of people will fill with tears even without chopping the vegetable. India, top producer and seller of onion, banned its export after floods damaged and delayed crops leading to record prices in the country. And the UAE, a key importer, is feeling the aftereffects. The prices in the market are fluctuating on a daily basis.
"Earlier the rate was Dh2-Dh3 per kilo. It jumped and reached Dh4 on Tuesday and on Wednesday, it was up to Dh5. On Friday, the prices spiked to Dh5.75-Dh6.There is no point selling without this margin," said Aboobakker V., who runs Nofeel Fruits and Vegetables shop in Abu Dhabi. "Only expat customers from the subcontinent know about the ban by the Indian government. Locals are slowly understanding about the spike in prices and the reason behind it," he said.
Aboobakker said there are cheaper alternatives in the market from Egypt at Dh2.5 but people still prefer Indian onion. "The quality of Indian onion is much better compared to any other. But for the last two days, we are not receiving any good quality here.
Something has to be done at the government level as onion is a staple diet for everyone," said Aboobakker, who is in the business for more than 11 years.
Wholesale dealers in Mina Vegetable Market Abu Dhabi said prices may go up further as India is the biggest supplier and a sudden vanishing act would destroy balance in the market.
"I am here for more than 30 years. I can't recollect such a situation before. The prices are spiralling on daily basis. Abu Dhabi market receives onion supply from Dubai. It first arrives at Port of Jebel Ali and then is transported here. It's Dh3.5 per kilo in Dubai on Wednesday, so Dh4-Dh5 in shops could be a possibility. What's worrying for us is the current supply will only last till what we have now from the containers, which arrived prior to Indian government's ban. Even my home country of Bangladesh is affected. There are onion supply from Egypt, Iran and China. It will cost between Dh1 and Dh1.5 and the selling price at shops will be Dh2.5 or so. However, people still will ask for the Indian variety. Food tastes much better as water content is high in onion from Egypt and Iran. Indian variety is apt for frying," Faizur Rehman, who manages Al Nakkas Vegetables, said.
Egypt onion prices rise
Another wholesale dealer said he had seen now unusual hike in onion prices from Egypt.
"A 20kg sack of Egyptian onion was Dh36 on October 1 and 24 hours later, we had the same sack for Dh42. This could be start of a trend as there is demand. India needs to get its act together. Every year, you hear about farmers dumping onions on the road because of low rates. This happens in March-April-May and then we have such crisis in August to October depending on monsoon. This time, floods took away not only lives but livelihoods of all of us," an expat dealer said.
Retail chains have warned that they will run out of Indian onion is a few days. "We will soon be dependent on supplies from Egypt. Consumers will be left with no choice. We may also have onions from Pakistan and Turkey but the main supplier will be Egypt," a vegetable purchase officer of a retail house said.

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