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Five months after prohibiting export of onions, the commerce ministry on Monday said the curbs will be lifted from 15 March.

“The government will allow export of onions from March 15 in the interest of farmers. This decision will increase the income of farmers," trade minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.

The government on 29 September banned exports and imposed countrywide stock limits on onion to bring down prices of the key cooking ingredient that had soared ahead of state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana. The crackdown followed retail onion prices touching 80 a kg in Delhi due to supply disruptions after floods in some states. In December last year, the prices hit 160 per kg in certain parts of the country.

Onion price inflation as per the Wholesale Price Index peaked in December at 455.8% and decelerated to 293.4% in January. Retail price in Delhi on 29 February stood at Rs40 against 50 on 1 February, as per the daily price report by National Horticulture Board.

The shortage in onion supply due to excess rain and flood hitting the kharif crop last year is set to pass with arrival of rabi crop which has begun slowly.

Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday tweeted: “Expected monthly harvest (of onion) in March is over 40 lakh MT compared to 28.4 lakh MT last year."

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) also announced removing the minimum export price (MEP) of $850 per tonne imposed last year for outward shipments of the commodity. "The export of all varieties of onions has been made free without any condition of letter of credit and MEP, with effect from March 15, 2020," the DGFT said in a notification. Farmers in several parts of Nashik district in Maharashtra agitated over falling onion prices on Monday, with average per quintal price standing at 1,450 at Lasalgaon, the country's largest wholesale market of onions.

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