New Delhi: Private traders have placed orders to import onions and at least 1,000 tonnes are expected by month end, a PTI news report quoted a senior government official as saying.
The retail prices of onion have hovering between ₹60/kg and ₹100/kg since past two months, and the government's various interventions helped it to cool down a bit, but the rates are still ruling high at over ₹50/kg in Delhi and other consuming areas.
"Private traders have informed the government that they have imported a small quantity of onion. Traders are expected to order further 1,000 tonnes for delivery by month-end and another lot for next month," a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official told PTI.
A PTI tweet quoted Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan as saying that onion output in kharif, late-kharif seasons of 2019-20 could fall 26% from the same season a year ago to 5.2 million tonnes.
The shipments should be smooth as the government has liberalised phytosanitary and fumigation norms for import of onion till December-end, the official added.
The government has banned onion exports and imposed stock limits to boost domestic supply and check prices.
The government has facilitated onion imports through private as well as public trading agencies to improve supplies and calm the price spike. The government has decided to import 1 lakh tonnes of onion through state-run MMTC, which has already invited bids for import of 4,000 tonnes.
Onion is a seasonal crop with harvesting period of rabi (March to June), kharif (October to December) and late-kharif (January-March). During July to October, the supply in the market comes from stored onions from rabi season.
"During 2019-20, there was a 3-4 weeks delay in sowing as well as decline in sown area of the kharif onion because of late arrival of monsoon. Further, untimely prolonged rains in the major growing states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh during the harvesting period caused damage to the standing crops in these regions," a PTI news report quoted Paswan as saying in the Lok Sabha.
As a result, the minister said the production of kharif crop was affected.
The rains during September-October also hit transportation of crop from these producing regions to consuming centres, he said.
"This led to limited availability of kharif onions in the market and has put pressure on its prices," Paswan said.