Thursday 21 November 2013

India's Onion Crisis.

We've all heard about the rise in price of onions in India; it has, apparently, quadrupled over the last month. A disaster both domestically and politically.

My own small home-grown stock, above, amounts to about 15 kilos, but is not an essential part of my diet. However in India the price, and availability, of onions is as important as eating itself.

Onions seem to be used in most Indian savoury recipes, but they are also an important food-stuff in their own right. I had always previously understood that 'Rice and Dahl' was the staple food of India's 'less-fortunate', but I'm now told that 'Rice and Onions' is far more common.

So, what has caused this problem. As with Ireland's famous 1850's 'potato famine', the problem is not that there aren't any onions (or potatoes in Ireland's case), it's that greedy merchants have found more lucrative markets, and are taking advantage of increased profits elsewhere.

In Ireland there was plenty of grain and other foods to replace the infamous blighted potato crop, and feed the nation; but the rich Irish and British landowners/merchants preferred to export to both mainland Europe and Britain itself, where they commanded much higher prices.

In India's case, I believe that the Indian 'Onion merchants' are exporting to the Middle East, where money is probably never in short supply.

p.s. I've just heard on the radio that India now has a chronic sugar shortage (which in their case is probably not such a bad thing). Let's just hope that rice doesn't follow the same disastrous course.

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  1. I didn't know this ~ so thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  2. onion crisis? I never even knew that India grew onions let alone had a crisis - unfortunately I have a crisis of my own, mine are all suffering from rot

  3. A person wouldn't starve without onions, but might without rice. The Irish potato famine is one of the most shameful periods in human history, so many killed by greed.
    One wonders what would happen to us if the arabs decided to sell all their petrol to the Chinese. Remembering the petrol crisis of only a few years ago, our the local Spa shop ran out of virtually everything edible in two days as people decided to conserve their fuel and shop locally.
    It's a scary thought, but we still live on a knife edge, at the mercy of wealthy, greedy merchants.
    (I was going to start my diet today, but I think I'll have an extra bowl of porridge, just in case........)

  4. No, I haven't heard this either - it's probably been overshadowed by the rocket to Mars launch. You cannot make good dahl without onions anyway, and if they want more sugar (India has a drastically high level of diabetes, btw), then Cuba has a spare few million tons to give them.

    1. The Indians make Tea by filling a cup with sugar, then adding a couple of Tea leaves, and a splash of hot water. Those who take milk add a tin of condensed milk.

  5. I was trying to think of what the equivalent disaster would be here in Canada....we are heavy grain users so maybe a wheat failure?

  6. as a veggie, all my meals start off with loads of onion (and garlic!) I would hate to be short of onions here in Somerset!

  7. One is reminded of Marie Antoinette and the infamous 'let them eat cake'. Surely they could adapt to lack of onions one would think and yet old habits die hard.

  8. I can't imagine being without terrible!

  9. We would be in hell in this house with out onions!

    When we were in Mumbai to close a call centre (you don't hear that often), we went to one of the managers homes. All vegetarian food, I had the most amazing lotus (meat)ball massalla. And to thicken the sauce and make it silky, they used slightly caramalised onions pureed with yoghurt. I can taste it now. God that food was from heaven.

  10. It seems like such a strange thing to run short of... it's not as though they are hard 'nnto grow!

  11. There's going to be a world shortage of onion bhajis!!!!

    'Kin 'Ell!

  12. I'd not heard of the onion crisis, either. I use them in fits and starts, although more in winter as i make more stews and soups in colder weather, and onions are a welcome addition. I would miss them if i had to stop using them entirely, but nowhere close to the extent of those for whom this is a staple.

  13. Watching the title of this post, I thought of pointing out about the greedy businessmen and all, but you did a far greater job than what I could have. I didn't know Ireland's potato famine was similar.

    The current sugar problem is what newspapers call "cyclicity" or something. Every few years, prices of sugarcane rise too high, and every few years they come too low.

  14. I can't imagine an onion shortage! And they use so much onion in Indian cuisine. :(


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