With retail prices of onions hovering around Rs 80-100 in most major markets across India, the government is considering importing onions from countries like China, Egypt and Russia.
Elaborating on the plan, Ram Vilas Paswan, Union minister for food and public distribution, stated that the government agency MMTC has been directed to float a tender for import of onions to meet any shortfall in availability.
Since 2016, India has been importing fresh onions from countries such as Afghanistan, the UAE, Singapore and Egypt. In 2018-19, the imports from Afghanistan amounted to 833.09 MT, from UAE – 6.02 MT and Singapore – 2.51 MT.
The current shortfall, if any, may result in similar imports but from countries that are found suitable for the purpose. According to government sources, the tenders for the same, depending on the need, may be floated at the end of the monsoon season as according to a Ministry of Agriculture Report on Onions for the Month of August, production of onions during the year 2018-19 (Third Advance Estimate), is expected to be 0.96% higher as compared to the previous year, which was 23,485,000 tonne.
However, the said report adds that as per information received from major Kharif growing states i.e., Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, up to August 30, 2019, area sown was 1.81 lakh ha against corresponding period of last year 1.88 lakh ha. The information for final sown area is awaited from the states while the stored onions are being released in the market for sale.