Agriculture World

Centre Relaxes Import Norms for Onion to Increase Domestic Supply

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

The retail price of onion has shown a marked increase from August end, though the price level was below that of last year till October 18. A sharp spike in prices of onion in past 10 days by Rs.11.56 per kilo has taken the all-India retail price of onion to Rs.51.95 per kilo which was 12.13 per cent more than the last year’s price of Rs.46.33 per kg. 

The government on September 14, took a pre-emptive measure by announcing a ban on onion export to ensure availability to domestic consumers at reasonable rates during the lean season before the Kharif onion arrival.  

While the speed at which retail prices increase had been moderated to some extent, recent instances of heavy rainfall within the major growing districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh had caused damage to standing Kharif crop, stored onion and seed nurseries. These developments on the weather front have resulted during a sharp increase in onion prices. 

The government has built up onion buffer stock from the Rabi onion in 2020. To moderate prices, onion from the buffer stock is being released during a calibrated manner from the second half of September 2020 to major mandis, to retail suppliers like Safal, Kendriya Bhandar and NCCF and also to State Governments. More will be done in the upcoming days. 

To facilitate the import of onion, the government has relaxed the conditions for fumigation and additional declaration on Phytosanitary Certificate under the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for import up to December 15, 2020. The Indian High Commissions are instructed in the relevant nations to contact the traders for pushing for greater imports of onions to the country. Such consignments of imported onions which arrive in Indian port without fumigation and endorsement to that effect on the PSC would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider. 

If Stem and Bulbs nematode (Ditylenchus dipsaci) or onion maggot (Hylimia antiqua) is detected it would be eliminated through fumigation and therefore the consignments to be released with no additional inspection fee. An undertaking is going to be obtained from the importers that the onion will be used just for consumption and not for propagation. Such consignments of onions for consumption will not be subjected to four times additional inspection fee on account of non-compliance of conditions of import under the PQ order, 2003. 

An estimated Kharif Crop of 37 LMT is also likely to start arriving in the mandis that will give reprieve to the rising prices. 

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