India bans export of onion seeds to contain domestic prices

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The government has prohibited export of onion seeds with immediate effect responding to its reported shortage in the domestic market and rising prices of onions in the country.

Onion traders in Nashik however, continued to boycott auctions for the third successive day despite a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Traders in Nashik have been boycotting onion auctions since the beginning of this week in 15 APMCs (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees) also known as `mandis’.  

Pawar has assured the onion traders that he will take up the issue with the Centre and will lead a delegation of farmer and trader representatives to Delhi. Onion traders said they will hold another meeting to take a decision on the issue. Traders will also meet the district collector of Nashik district.

To contain prices, last week the Centre had imposed the stock holding limit on retail and wholesale onion traders till December 31 to improve domestic availability of the commodity and provide relief to consumers. Retailers can stock up to 2 tonnes, whereas wholesale traders are allowed to keep up to 25 tonnes.

The Union government further relaxed the stocking ban by giving three days’ time for grading and packing of onions from the date of purchasing the commodity from mandis before stock holding limits come into force.

The latest decision to provide give a window of three days comes amid traders’ facing difficulties in offloading onions in the market due to the stock limits. The limits have been imposed to check prices as well as boost domestic supply of onions and prevent possible hoarding of the commodity.

Onion supplies have come under pressure across the country due to likely damage to the standing kharif crop in key growing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. As a result, retail prices of onion are ruling over Rs 80 per kilogram in most parts of the country. On account of likely damage from heavy rains, the government expects kharif and late onion kharif output to be lower at 37 lakh tonnes this year, down by 6 lakh tonnes from the previous year.

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