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Government feels onion heat, asks MMTC to import 10,000 tonnes

Concerned over spiraling retail onion prices that have hit Rs 80 per kg in the national capital, the Centre has asked the state-owned MMTC to import 10,000 tonnes.
Concerned over spiraling retail onion prices that have hit Rs 80 per kg in the national capital, the Centre has asked the state-owned MMTC to import 10,000 tonnes.
NEW DELHI/ PUNE: The government has asked public sector undertaking MMTC to import 10,000 tonnes of onions to increase availability of the commodity and tame rising prices, which touched Rs 80 a kg in the national capital.

Wholesale onion prices climbed to Rs 50 a kg in Delhi from Rs 15-35 a kg in the first week of August and traders expect prices to continue firming up. The daily arrival of trucks carrying onions from across the country and Afghanistan hasn’t eased the current situation.

Prices have increased due to a fall in production on account of unseasonal rains in February-April. Farmers and traders are limiting onion supplies as prices firm up.

In Delhi’s retail market, good quality onion was ruling at Rs 80 a kg, while the poor quality, small variety was selling at Rs 50 a kg, traders said.

“Onion is selling from Rs 25-50 a kg. We are daily getting 65-70 trucks carrying 950-1,000 tonnes of onions and expect prices to further firm up by Rs 5-10 a kg,” said Rajender Sharma, onion trader and former Azadpur Mandi chairman.

Sharma said onions from Afghanistan were not getting a good response in the domestic market as their size was huge. Onions were being brought in from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

“We all know that even after floating the tender, the shipments will take time and hence prices will remain firm. Since the past five months, we all know that prices will firm and the government should have taken a decision then,” said Sharma.

The government asked the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed) to cancel an onion import tender it had planned to float after earlier attempts failed to attract any bids. Traders didn’t respond to the Nafed tender this year and last year as they were not comfortable with the conditions stipulated by Nafed.

“Traders will participate in the MMTC tender if they have taken into consideration demands of traders. If good quality onion from Egypt comes, it will help to control prices,” said Danish Shah, a leading importer and exporter of onions from Maharashtra.

Agriculture ministry officials said MMTC’s tender would be floated soon and they expected traders from Pakistan, Egypt and China to respond
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