Govt to import 1 lakh tonne onions soon to check prices

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 15 2014, 13:38pm hrs
In anticipation of a further hike in onion prices in coming months, the government has decided to import about 1 lakh tonne of onions in the next few weeks to augment domestic supplies. Sources told FE that the modalities are currently being worked out and the final decision would be taken by Prime Minister's Office shortly.

Onions are likely to be imported from Malaysia or Iran which would be used to increase supplies in August and September when prices are expected to rise sharply.

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Officials said there is indication of retail prices in major cities having risen beyond R30 per kg in the last one week and is expected to increase further in coming weeks. According to sources, due to the delay in monsoon in key areas of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the kharif arrival could be delayed by at least a month, thus pushing prices up in September and October.

The current onion supply is likely to be hit in the next few weeks as portions of summer crop was hit by hailstorms in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in March, " an official in the agriculture ministry said. July-September is a sensitive period during which onion prices rise as demand is met through stored crops from summer output.

The government is targetting a small quantity of exports to augment supplies in the next couple of months so that prices do not reach R80 or R100 per kg like last year.