Even as the state-owned MMTC has invited bids for import of 10,000 tonne of onion to boost domestic supply, traders have gone ahead to import the key kitchen staple on their own from Egypt.
Around 80 containers have arrived from Egypt at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai, a former official of Vashi APMC said. Every container has at least 30 tonne of onion.
According to traders, prices would stabilise in the next eight to ten days on the back of imports and arrivals from the South.
This is perhaps the first time such large shipments have arrived in the country, said Ashok Walunj, former director, APMC (onions & potato), Vashi and director, Maharashtra Rajya Bazaar Sangh.
“Two containers have already reached Vashi. Another 5-6 containers will be arriving on Friday while some containers are likely to be distributed to other markets in the country soon. The onions are expected to be sold in the range of R40-45 per kg,” he added.
This move is expected to stabilise onion prices in various markets in the next eight to ten days, Walunj said.
Prices at Lasalgaon, the country’s largest wholesale onion market, are currently in the range of R4,500 per quintal. Around 3,200 quintals arrived in the market on Thursday.
According to RP Gupta, director, National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), prices are now showing a downward trend. “Kharif arrivals have begun from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and imports are also happening. In the North onions are being imported from Afghanistan and in Mumbai, onions have been brought in from Egypt. Prices are in the range of R40-45 per kg,” Gupta said.
Onion stocks in the country are currently in the range of 9-10 lakh tonne and this should suffice till the new crop arrives, he said.
Last week, the government had said onion production this year is likely to be close to last year’s level of 18.92 million tonne.
MMTC has floated a second tender after finalising earlier bids for import of 1,000 tonne at R45 per kg. These shipments are expected to arrive by September 10.
The government has started importing onions as retail prices shot up to R80 per kg across the country due to shortage of about five lakh tonne of the key kitchen staple.
According to MMTC, bids are invited from global suppliers for import of 10,000 tonne of onion from Pakistan, Egypt, China, Afghanistan or any other origin.
Traders say when the new onions arrive in the market, rates of the old onions will stabilise. The new crop that was planted in June in Maharashtra is expected to be harvested in September. However, poor rainfall in the state will impact the crop. When the next crop is harvested in Karnataka and in Maharashtra, the prices should come down, they said.