LAHORE - Consumers are still paying Rs 25 per kilogram of onion which shows they don’t get benefit of excess of produce, as the real beneficiary is the middleman, who pockets most of the profit.

Growers say they are selling their produce at Rs4 to Rs5 per kg at farm gate and they aren’t able to meet production expenses or make any profit.

Onion prices crashed after hitting a peak during last month, as consumers are buying the commodity at Rs20-25 per kg against few weeks back’s retail price of Rs40-60 per kg.

In wholesale vegetable market, a 100kg bag of onion was sold between Rs1,100 to Rs1,500 against previously reported price of Rs2,500 to Rs3,500 in the past few weeks. The sudden fall in prices is depressing for onion growers, as low quality onion is being sold for Rs240 for 100kg bag and high quality at Rs500 by the growers at farm gates.

Generally, farmers calculate their cost per acre crop at Rs30,000 to Rs40,000. One acre of onion crop gives, on an average, around 60 bags of 100kg. Cost of harvesting, transportation, filling and gunny bags is added towards pre- and post-harvest expenses. Market sources said that there is also factor that Punjab, which is main market for Sindh’s onion, is getting its commodity from India. According to a vegetable market’s commission agent, onion crop is in huge surplus and godowns in the city are packed to capacity. The problem that crop is not fetching good price and growers remain at losing end.

They said that the harvest was delayed in some areas due to rains as well. Since onion is a perishable commodity, growers want to dispose it off as quickly as possible to avoid losses.

Growers don’t follow proper post-harvest practices which require them to dry the crop after harvest.

Exporters pointed out that it is quality of onion that is hampering its export though several countries have reduced duty on onion as well as potatoes from Rs60 per kg to Rs12 per kg. They said that having such brighter prospects of export, country is not able to cash on the situation due to lack of proper harvesting practices.

Onion is grown in Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Dadu and Mirpurkhas and crops from these areas start reaching markets in Oct. the downward price trend of onion can be attributed to low quality, surplus crop and delayed harvesting.