Ban on onion exports lifted

Written by fe Bureaus | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 18 2011, 08:34am hrs
The government on Thursday decided to lift ban on onion exports due to pressure from traders and farmers, but fixed a higher base price as a precautionary measure against possibility of price shootingagain.

An empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on food headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee decided toallowexportsof onionsata minimum export price (MEP)of $600pertonnetoensurebetterdomesticsupply.

The government had banned onion export in the lastweekof Decemberwhen domesticpricesrosetoRs70- 80 per kg in many cities due to disruption of supplies because of lower kharif crop which was partially damagedbecauseof rains.

To dissuade onion exports, the government had raisedtheMEPfromtheprevious level of $525 per tonne to $1,200 per tonne and later banned exports completely. The government even imported about 1,000 tonne of onion from Pakistan for increasing curbing rise in domesticprices. However,pricesstartedto decline since middle of January after arrival of late kharif crop in the markets.

The improvement in supplies pulled downwholesale onionpricestoaroundRs500 a quintal from Rs 3,000 a quintal prevailed a month. After which farmers closed down all the market in Nashik demanding better prices fewdaysback.

Last week, the government had last week lifted export ban on two varieties of onionsBangalore Rose and Krishnapuram mostlygrown in Karnataka and AndhraPradesh. According to department of consumers affairs data, theretailpricesdeclinedhas fallen significantly during last one month in key cities.

In Delhi the retail prices declinedonThursdaytoRs17a kg from Rs 51.5 per kg prevailed just a month back. In Mumbai and Bangalore, the retails prices have fallen to Rs18perkgfromRs50perkg duringthesameperiod.

Priortotheban,Indiahas already exported 1.15 milliontonneof onionmainlyto Gulf countries, Sri Lanka and Malaysia during April- Novemberof this fiscal.

Openingof onionexports camewithindaysof agriculture minister Sharad Pawar andMaharashtrachief minister Prithviraj Chavan urged commerce minister AnandSharmato lift ban on onionexportfollowingfarmersprotest inNashik.