The Indian government has notified its decision to lift a ban on onion exports from January 1, as domestic supplies have improved with fresh crop arrivals and prices have remained steady. The move comes as a new year gift for farmers, who had called the ban “arbitrary”. It also comes at a time when protests against the Centre’s farm bills continue unabated.
The government had banned onion exports in September 2020 to restrict the spike in domestic prices of the kitchen staple. The surge in prices was caused by a massive destruction of crops in states, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, following heavy monsoon downpours.
Onion prices have since eased. In Delhi, the wholesale prices have dropped by 25 per cent since the ban was imposed to Rs 1,425 per quintal, according to the data available with the consumer affairs ministry.
While the ban was eased for high-end varieties and exports of 10,000 tonne of Bengaluru rose and Krisnpuram onion varieties and exports of these varieties were allowed in October, restrictions on the exports of common varieties still remained. With the latest notifications, this curb is set to be lifted from January 1.
According to a notification by the directorate general of foreign trade on Monday, the “export of all varieties of onions” has been made “free” from January 1, 2021.
Agriculture economists had criticised the Centre’s move, saying producers were short-changed to protect consumers, which doesn’t help the country’s long-term trade interest. Export curbs include the imposition of minimum export price, quantitative limit on shipment, export duty and an outright ban. Around 40 per cent of the onion crop is produced in the kharif season, which are not usually stored.