As onion prices climb by leaps and bounds in wholesale and retail markets, onion traders have started importing onions from Afghanistan and other countries.
Onion traders from the Vashi Market committee said at least 10 to 12 containers of onion from Egypt were expected to reach India by early next week.
The average price of onions at the Lasalgaon market hit a two-year high Thursday. The commodity fetched a price of Rs 5,200 per quinital. Only 3,900 quintals of the produce arrived at the market Thursday, which is a 80 per cent drop. The situation is expected to remain critical due to the destruction of the crop by unseasonal rains and hailstorms. Prices of onions are expected to remain high across the country till September end.
Officers with the Azadpur Market Committee in Delhi said that private traders were importing onions from Afghanistan via Pakistan.
“The arrival of Afghan onions started from August 18 and every day at least 3 to 4 truckloads of the product are coming in the market. These onions are procured by commission agents and traders,” said a senior officer with the committee. At present, the wholesale rate of onions in Delhi ranges from Rs 20 to Rs 55.55 per kg.
Nanduseth Dhaga, an onion trader from Lasalgaon market, said that many traders had started negotiating with their sources in Pakistan, Egypt and other countries.
However, Dhaga refused to give details, saying that the traders were keeping it a secret for commercial reasons. Officers of the Nashik-based National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) also confirmed these private negotiations.
“Other than the onions from Afghanisthan, many traders are in the process of procuring onions from Pakistan, Egypt and other countries… It remains to be seen when and how they will release the produce in the market,” said a senior officer of the NHRDF.
Figures from the ministry of commerce shows that India had imported onions worth Rs 33 crore in 2014-15. While private traders are making headway in importing onions in the country, the government’s bid to import 10,000 metric tonnes of onions through NAFED seems to have backfired. NAFED had floated the tender back in July, but failed to get a single bid. The tender was refloated for an extended time period, ending August 27. However, Nanasaheb Patil, chairman of Lasalgaon APMC, said that the government has asked MMTC to procure 10,000 metric tonnes of onions at war footing.