New Delhi: The government Tuesday said prices of onions are likely to remain high for the next three weeks, but the situation is likely to improve thereafter in the wake of its move to ban exports of the commodity.
“Onion prices will remain high for the next three weeks and the situation is likely to improve only after two-three weeks. Ban on onion exports should help reduce the prices,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said today.
Yesterday, the government decided to suspend onion exports till January 15 in light of skyrocketing prices of the commodity, which have jumped to around Rs 60-70 a kilo due to “hoarding and speculation”.
Agriculture cooperative major Nafed, a regulating agency, has been asked to stop giving fresh clearance to exporters. The government has also made exports almost impossible for those who are already in possession of ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) given by the Nafed and 12 other agencies.
It has more than doubled the minimum export price (MEP) to USD 1,200 per tonne from USD 525, meaning no shipment can take place below this price.
“We have decided to voluntarily suspend issuing NOC to onion exporters till January 15 and have also raised the MEP to USD 1,200 dollars per tonne for those NOCs which is yet to be executed,” an official said.
The decision to suspend exports was taken at an emergency meeting of Nafed held yesterday.
Onion prices have soared to Rs 60-70 per kg in the retail markets across the country from Rs 35-40 a couple of days ago.
Meanwhile, thirteen truck loads (5 to 15 tonne per truck) of onion arrived from Pakistan, a senior official of Customs department in Amritsar said. “About five (Indian) importers have brought in onion from Lahore for supply in the markets of Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar in Punjab and Delhi,” the official said.
The cost of onion from Pakistan stood at Rs 18-20 per kg, he said. This included custom duty, cess, transportation and handling charges.
This is for first time that onion is being imported from Pakistan. India mainly imports dry fruits from Pakistan and exports perishable commodities like onion, potato, tomato, garlic, livestock, cotton and maize by road.
We exported onion to Pakistan in March and April. Now, we are importing it from Pakistan, an official of a leading Amritsar trading company said.