India expects 1,000 tonnes of onion imports by the end of November 2019

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Private traders have placed orders for importing onions and at least 1,000 tonnes are expected by month end, which will help ease retail prices that is still ruling high at over Rs 60/kg, a senior government official said.

The retail prices of onion had soared to Rs 100/kg a week back in the national capital, but the government’s various interventions helped it to cool down a bit, but the rates are still ruling high at over Rs 60/kg in Delhi as well as other consuming areas of the country.

“Private traders have informed the government that they have imported a small quantity of onion. Traders are expected to order further 1,000 tonnes for delivery by month-end and another lot for next month,” a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official told PTI.

The shipments will come smoothly as the government has liberalised phytosanitary and fumigation norms for import of onion till December-end, the official added. Meanwhile Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said onion output in kharif season may fall by 26 per cent to 5.2 million tonnes

The shipments of onions should be smooth as the government has liberalised phytosanitary and fumigation norms for import of onion till December-end.

Further the government has banned onion exports and imposed stock limits to boost domestic supply and check prices. The ban on onion exports is likely to continue till February 2020. Domestic prices have risen after the harvest of summer-sown crops, which were expected to augment supplies, was delayed and damaged by untimely rains.

The ban on overseas sales by India, the world’s biggest exporter of the bulb, will keep prices elevated in Asia and require importers in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to find other sources to fulfil their demand.

The government has facilitated onion imports through private as well as public trading agencies to improve supplies and calm the price spike. The government has decided to import 1 lakh tonnes of onion through state-run MMTC, which has already invited bids for import of 4,000 tonnes.

Onion is a seasonal crop with harvesting period of rabi (March to June), kharif (October to December) and late-kharif (January-March). During July to October, the supply in the market comes from stored onions from rabi season.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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