Some onion imports on cards as prices soar

The Centre has not yet initiated any action on onion imports.The Centre has not yet initiated any action on onion imports.

With onion prices continuing to rise, some importers have decided to import the commodity from Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, FE has learnt from traders in Nashik and Vashi.

Traders at Vashi – one of the largest wholesale markets in the country – said around 20-25 containers from Egypt are expected to arrive in a fortnight at a landed cost of Rs 35-40 per kg. One container is of nearly 29 tonne.

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The Centre has not yet initiated any action on onion imports. Last year, the government had approved imports of 49,500 tonne. The country had last imported 1,987 tonne of onion in FY16, which happened to be the only year when India imported onions in the last five years.

Traders at Nashik said onions from Iraq, Iran and Turkey are expected to arrive in the next 10 days. Shailesh Patil, spokesperson, Maharashtra State Onion Growers Association, said there are reports of onion trucks from Afghanistan entering India through the Wagah border to feed markets in north India. However, there are no authentic figures available on the extent of the commodity coming in from Afghanistan.

Prashant Patil of the Onion Growers Association said, “Our association has been demanding a minimum support price of Rs 2,000 per quintal since farmers have been facing losses, especially during the lockdown period, when onions were sold at Rs 500 per quintal. The government is quick to bring a ban on export when prices rose and farmers were finally getting good prices. But, nothing is done for them when prices are low.”

Indian traders have called back more than 100 onion trucks parked near the Bangladesh boder for nine days, as the government did not approve of exports. While Indian onions are routinely exported to countries in the Gulf, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the demand from Sri Lanka has picked up due to destruction of its own crops due to rains.

On Wednesday, summer onions traded at an average wholesale price of Rs 3,600 per quintal with a minimum price of Rs 1,000 per quintal and a maximum price of Rs 4,251 per quintal at Lasalgaon- the country’s largest wholesale onion market. Arrivals touched 7,000 quintal.

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