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Govt considering lifting ban on onion exports

The government is considering lifting ban on exports of onion as fresh arrival of the commodity has started softening its prices in the domestic market, an official said.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 22, 2020, 07.00 AM IST
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Onion prices have come down to around Rs 60-70 per kg depending upon quality and locality from the peak of Rs 160 per kg last month.

New Delhi: India is considering lifting the ban on onion exports as prices of the commodity begin to soften. Onion prices have started softening on the arrival of imported onions and new crop.

The commerce and industry ministry had in September amended the export policy of onion from ‘free’ to ‘prohibited’. To meet domestic demand, India began importing onions from Turkey, Afghanistan and Egypt.

“The commerce department has suggested lifting the ban and if a fresh notification needs to be issued,” said an official.

India exported fresh and chilled onions worth $496.82 million in 2018-19. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the UAE are the top three destinations for Indian onions. “Supplies have improved. So the ban is being reconsidered,” said another official.

States are not keen to lift imported onions despite the key kitchen staple being offered to them at an average price of Rs 55 per kg.

Industry experts also said the taste of imported onions has not found favour with the Indian palette, which is the key reason behind states’ reluctance. “No state is willing to buy these onions as their taste is not like that of locally grown onions,” the second official said.

Till now, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have taken around 2,000 tonnes of imported onions.

The Centre had in December last approved import of 36,090 metric tonnes of onions amid the supply crunch.

Onion prices have reduced to Rs 60-70 per kg from Rs 150-160 last month. Onion prices had shot up sharply due to an estimated 25% fall in kharif production of 2019-20 crop year (July-June) compared to the previous year because of late monsoon.

As per official data, inflation in onions accelerated 455.8% in December from 172.3% in November.

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