Amid rising onion prices, and perhaps also keeping in view the Bihar elections, the Centre on Wednesday relaxed import norms for the bulb until December 15 and asked Indian High Commissioners in “relevant” countries to contact traders there to facilitate its import by India. The government has expressed hope that kharif onions, likely to start arriving soon in mandis, will give reprieve to the rising prices.
The move comes at a time when retail price of onion has increased in recent days. According to the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, a sharp spike in prices by Rs 11.56 per kg over the last 10 days has taken the all-India retail price of onion to Rs 51.95 per kg. This is 12.13 per cent higher than the price of Rs 46.33 per kg at this time last year.
On September 14, the government had announced a ban on onion export “to ensure availability to domestic consumers at reasonable rates during the lean season before the kharif onion arrival.”
Bihar in mind, taking sting out
“To facilitate import of onion, the government has relaxed the conditions for fumigation and additional declaration on Phytosanitary Certificate under the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003, for import up to December 15,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. It stated, “Indian High Commissions have been instructed in the relevant countries to contact the traders for pushing for greater imports of onions to the country….. Such consignments of imported onions which arrive in Indian port without fumigation and endorsement to that effect on the PSC, would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider.”
The ministry stated, “An undertaking will be obtained from importers that the onion will be used only for consumption, and not for propagation. Consignments of onions for consumption will not be subjected to four times additional inspection fee on account of non-compliance of conditions of import under PQ order, 2003.”
According to the ministry, the rate of retail price increase has been “moderated to some extent”, but recent heavy rain in major onion-growing districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh “caused damage to standing kharif crop, stored onion and seed nurseries. These developments on the weather front have resulted in sharp increase in onion prices.”
The government said that a buffer stock of onion from 2020 Rabi season has been maintained and is being released.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines