The Government’s decision to ban onion exports to check domestic price rise has upset farmers in Karnataka who are growing a special variety called ‘Bangalore Rose.’ The variety is primarily grown to cater South Asian nations as they have very little demand in the domestic market.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Shivanna, President of Chikkaballapur district onion growers association, said, “The decision has affected the onion growers in the state since there is no demand in the domestic market for this variety, the onions should be exported or it will be wasted. So far 40,000 metric tonnes of onions have been exported in March to July, another 10,000 metric tonnes of onion is still not exported due to the government ban on export.”
He said farmers spend around Rs 1 lakh per acre in cultivating the crop.
“Again in August to November the second crop of the year will be harvested, so there will be more onions stock which will be wasted if the government does not withdraw its decision soon. The farmers have grown the onions by spending around rupees one lakh for one acre of land. After harvesting the onions should be exported within one month or it will be spoiled and the farmers have to bear the pain of loss.”
According to farmers, around 5,000 tons of onions have been wasted after the export ban came into effect. The annual production of ‘Bangalore rose onion’ variety, according to the state horticulture department, is estimated to be around 60,000 tonnes and of which 50,000 tonnes is exported to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, where the variety is used in seasoning, to make pickled onion and dehydrated powder.
Shivanna said that before banning the onions, the variety fetched Rs 1,300 per 50 kg, but the prices have crashed to Rs 400 to 500 in the market. The onions are sold to traders who will export the variety from Chennai port in Tamil Nadu to other countries. “According to traders, close to 40 containers of the ‘Bangalore Rose’ onion are stuck in the Chennai port since the export is banned,” Shivanna added.
The ‘Bangalore Rose’ onion is mostly grown in Chikkaballapur, Doddaballapur, Kolar and Bengaluru Rural districts and also in a few areas of Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. The variety received the Geographical Indication tag in 2015 is grown in 10,000 hectares of land in Karnataka.
Recently a delegation of onion growers led by Kolar BJP Lok Sabha member S Muniswamy met Union Chemical and Fertilisers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and requested him to take up the matter with the Centre.
On September 21, the Karnataka government requested the Centre to lift the ban on the export of Bangalore Rose onion with immediate effect to benefit a large number of farmers of the state. In a letter to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Karnataka Minister for Horticulture and Sericulture Narayana Gowda requested the Centre to assign a separate Harmonised System (HS) code for Bangalore Rose Onion.
“I would like to share with you that Bangalore Rose Onion is a unique GI product grown in Karnataka. This variety of onion is grown by the small and marginal farmers and only for export purpose within the significant domestic market. Any restriction on the export of this variety of onion would directly affect the farmers and the exporters engaged in it and put them to hardship,” Narayana Gowda said in the letter.
On Saturday, Bengaluru South BJP MP Tejasvi Surya also requested the central government to exclude Bangalore Rose onions from the purview of the ban. He along with Kolar MP Muniswamy held a video conference with Piyush Goyal to exempt Bangalore rose onions from all export bans . Goyal has directed officials to look into it.
The Centre had banned the export of onions in 2019, too. On Karnataka government’s request, the union government had exempted ‘Bengaluru Rose’.
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