Companies & Sectors
Onion prices continue to fall, increasing losses for farmers

Onion prices for traders have fallen to Rs600 per quintal on Wednesday from Rs1,200 per quintal earlier this month however there is little change in retail prices

Exactly a year after it made consumers to cry, onion prices are now causing losses to farmers. Last December, amidst the high festivities of Christmas and New Year, onions made the consumers to cry with prices touching as high as Rs80 per kg, while this year farmers are reeling under the losses due to the crashing prices. Experts and traders are warning of further downtrend in onion prices.
 
At Lasalgaon near Nasik, which is the country’s largest onion producing region, prices in the wholesale market have to fallen to Rs400-Rs500 per quintal due to excess production and storage. High export prices have also resulted in poor off take by the traders.

In Mumbai market, the modal prices (rate at which traders buy) of onion have fallen to Rs600 per quintal on Wednesday from Rs1,200 per quintal earlier this month. Meanwhile, the prices of onions from Karnataka have also drastically fallen.

However, there is little change in the retail prices of onions at Vashi retail market, near Mumbai. Onions are being sold at Rs12-Rs14 per kg, compared with Rs14-Rs16 a kilo last week.
 
“The cost of production for a quintal of onion comes at around Rs300-Rs400 while the current price is Rs400-Rs500 per quintal. At this price the farmers cannot even expect to recover their costs and this makes it impossible to sustain the business. We want the government to immediately take corrective measures to safe guard the interest of the onion growers,” said RP Gupta, director of National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF).

 For 2011-12, the onion production so far, according to NHRDF, is estimated at 150 lakh metric tonne, an increase of 4-5% compared to last year.

Experts demand that the lowering export prices could boost demand for Indian onions in international market. “The minimum export price should be brought down to $150 per metric tonne from $250 per metric tonne,” says Mr Gupta.

A Vashi-based trader told Moneylife that, “Governments, both the state and union, should immediately intervene to help the farmers who are bearing losses on the crop. It should also reduce the minimum export price. Even if there is excess production, people continue to shell out higher price in the retail market.”

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Govt to telcos to discontinue 3G roaming pacts

The decision comes after the unanimous view of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, law ministry and DoT that such roaming agreement was in violation of the telecom licences

New Delhi: Coming down heavily on operators for violating licence norms, the telecom ministry has asked service providers to discontinue their third generation (3G) roaming agreements and is also contemplating imposing penalty on them, reports PTI.

The decision comes after the unanimous view of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), law ministry and Department of Telecom (DoT) that such roaming agreement was in violation of the telecom licences.

Leading operators like Bharti, Vodafone and Idea had entered into agreement with one another to offer 3G mobile services in circles in which they could not succeed in getting spectrum in the auction held last year.

“The decision has been taken that this (3G roaming pacts) is in violation of terms and conditions of the licence... will be issuing notices asking them (operators) to stop their service with immediate effect. But on penalty, no decision has been taken yet,” telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar told PTI.

The issue pertains to the pact among major service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular, for providing 3G roaming network on a pan-India basis.

Other service providers like Tata Teleservices and Aircel had also entered into similar agreements to offer services in six circles. However, they have already discontinued the arrangement.

The DoT had sought a legal opinion on this matter and the law ministry had supported the DoT’s view.

In an internal note, the DoT had said the roaming agreement among telecom companies for 3G services would lead to a significant loss of revenue to the government.

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Yahoo considering cutting its 40% Alibaba stake

Yahoo! Inc. is considering cutting its 40% stake in Alibaba Group Holding to about 15%, two people briefed on the matter said.

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