Shipment curbs to hurt onion exports by over 28%

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 2 2014, 05:26am hrs
India's onion export this fiscal is set to fall by more than 28% to 1.4 million tonne (mt) from 1.8 mt in 2012-13. This sharp fall is mainly attributed to curbs on exports put by the government in the August November period last year for improving domestic supply.

According to official data, the country exported more than 1.3 mt of onions till middle of March and in the last two weeks of current fiscal, more than one lakh tonne of the key agricultural commodity would be shipped.

The total value of onions exported in AprilMarch 2014 had been more than Rs 3,000 crore. India, the second-largest onion producer in the world, had shipped 1.8 million tonne of onions, worth of Rs 2,294 crore, in 2012-13.

The latest data indicates that against a monthly shipment of more than 1 lakh tonnes achieved during 2013-14 , the country could export only about 23,000 tonnes in September last year and the shipment picked up pace only in December, 2013, after the government stated to reduce the minimum exports price (MEP).

Export curb imposed last year pulled down the overall shipment of onion from the country, a Nafed official told FE.

However, with an expectation of a bumper summer crop, which caters to about 50% to 60% of the domestic demand, exports are expected to increase in next fiscal, the official said.

Due to decline in rabi or summer production, retail prices rose to as high as Rs 90 per kg in many cities across the country in September last year which forced the government to import onion and hike the MEP.

The government imposed a higher MEP on onion in September 2013 at $ 900 per tonne and then it was hiked to $ 1,100 a tonne for putting a curb on exports and boost domestic supplies. In December 2013, the MEP was reduced to $150 per tonne.