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No respite: Onion prices remain high despite imports

Nanda Kasabe
Onion prices, Wholesale onion prices, Onion prices in delhi, APMC, Horticulture Exporters Association, onion export

Wholesale onion prices continue to remain on the higher side despite reports of imports coming into the country. For retail consumers across the country, prices were in the range of Rs 75p-Rs 100 per kg. Wholesale onion prices on Thursday were Rs 5,151 per quintal at Lasalgaon, the largest wholesale market for the bulb in the country. Arrivals were in the range of 1,154 quintals. Prices at neighbouring Pimplagaon were in the same range, though it had crossed Rs 7,500 per quintal on Monday.

There have been market reports of 2,500 tonne of imports coming into the country but traders at Vashi have reported that the imported goods have been directly transported these onions to either other states or outside places and these imports have not reached Vashi. Rajendra Shelke, president, Onion and Potato Association, Vashi confirmed that imported onions have not arrived in Vashi.

Jaydutt Holkar, former chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) said that 'one can understand retail onion prices to be in the range of Rs 75-Rs 100 per kg but wholesale onion prices have not reached Rs 100 per kg as yet in Nashik region and Lasalgaon'

As per market reports, some private importers have already brought in about 2,500 tonne of Egyptian onions at the JNPT port, Mumbai. The cost works out to Rs 26 to 28 per kg, while in the retail markets it has reached Rs 130 per kg.

Ajit Shah, president, Horticulture Exporters Association said that private traders have been importing onions since the past one and half months. Shah, however, was quick to point out that although the government relaxed import norms but this was not enough for importers The government has relaxed fumigation and quarantine rules till November 30, he said, adding that importers are seeking quicker customs clearances trade with centres like Dubai. For onion to reach India from Egypt, it requires 25 days and if it is routed through Dubai, the process would be quicker, Shah points out. A few traders have imported from Egypt, Turkey and other countries but the quantities are small and it takes 20 days to reach Indian ports. Dubai imports reach India within two days.

The first tranche of 6,090 metric tonne of onions imported by the Centre have been bought from Egypt and is slated to reach the Mumbai port in the first week of December. This consignment is being offered to state governments at Rs 52-55 per kg in Mumbai and Rs 60 per kg in Delhi, according to a recent official statement from the ministry of food and consumer affairs.

On November 9, the Centre had decided to import 1 lakh tonne of onions to control surging prices. State PSU MMTC has been asked to float tenders for the imported onions. But the onion is yet to arrive in the market.