Amid skyrocketing prices of onions, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution asked state-run MMTC to place an order for the import of 11,000 metric tons (MT) of onions from Turkey.
According to sources, the Department of Consumer Affairs has given direction to MMTC in this regard, and the imported onions will begin arriving from late December or early January.
Sources further said that the fresh direction for import of 11,000 MT of onions was in addition to the 6,090 MT of onions which will start arriving from Egypt mid-December.
Earlier too the government, on November 9, directed MMTC to import up to 1 lakh MT of onions from surplus countries. In fact, department roped in Indian embassies in major onion-exporting countries – Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt – to facilitate the imports of onion.
Last month, the Union cabinet approved importing 120,000 tonnes of onions to improve the domestic supply and control prices that have skyrocketed to Rs 75-120 per kg across major cities after a shortfall in production owing to adverse weather conditions and seasonality. The Centre has directed NAFED to procure surplus onions from Rajasthan and Maharashtra for distribution in deficit states.
“Untimely prolonged rains in the major growing states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh during the harvesting period, ie, September/October, caused damage to the standing crops in these regions… This led to limited availability of Kharif onion in the market and has put pressure on its prices,” Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had informed Lok Sabha on November 19.
He had further said, “During the current year, the production of Kharif and late Kharif (onions) is estimated to be 52.06 lakh MT, which is about 26 per cent lower than previous year’s production of Kharif and late Kharif production of 69.91 lakh MT.”
Last week, Paswan told Lok Sabha that during the current year, total buffer stock of 57,372.90 MT onions was created under Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF). From this buffer, 26,735 MT was distributed to various state governments, other agencies and also sold in various mandis through open auction.
“The remaining stock is accounted by disposal of 11,408 MT of low-quality onion in the local market and losses due to prolonged storage, driage, spoilage, etc., due to limited shelf-life,” he added.
The Centre has already banned the export of onions and has imposed a stockholding limit on wholesalers and retailers for an indefinite period.