Onion exports in the country seem to have picked up after being sluggish for the last few years. According to data released by the Directorate of General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGIS), 1.66 lakh metric tonnes of onion was exported from India till May 2016 as compared to the 1.18 lakh metric tonnes sent out of the country during January-May 2015.
Dr R P Gupta, director of the Nashik-based National Horticulture Research and Development Center (NHRDF), said this increase in export was due to the absence of Minimum Export Price (MEP) or other regulations in the market at present. “There is a healthy demand from the international markets and the competitive prices offered by Indian players have managed to keep the export momentum steady,” he said.
In order to remove the glut in the onion market and to increase the prices of onion in the wholesale markets, the Central government had slashed the MEP of the produce to zero in December. A bumper Rabi crop had flooded the market reducing the wholesale prices. While this might not have had the desired effect on the domestic market, it seems to have propped up the exports market.
However, the export figures are still low compared to the 2013 figure of 1.93 lakh MT during the corresponding period. The year 2014 (January to May) saw 1.37 lakh MT of onion being exported, while January-May 2012 saw 1.75 lakh MT exports. Production wise, the country has seen an increasing trend with the year 2014-15 reporting 1,98,29,000 MT while 2013-14 had reported 1,94,01,000 MT production. In 2012-13, the figure was 1,68,13,000 MT.
India, on an average, exports just about 20 per cent of the onion it grows. This export, though minimal, is important as the domestic prices collapse otherwise.
The Kharif plantation across the country has been hit this year and the production is expected to be 30 per cent below par. With 45 lakh MT onion accounted for in the country, price rise does not seem to be a concern as of now.