The government has relaxed fumigation norms for import of onion and export of onion seeds have been banned, he added.
As retail onion prices skyrocket to over Rs 80 a kg in some parts of the country, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said private import of 7,000 tonnes and another 25,000 tonnes shipment before Diwali are expected to improve the domestic supply situation and check price rise of the commodity.
Enough supply will be there in the market as cooperative Nafed will also commence imports, he said.
Not only onion, about 10 lakh tonnes of potato is also being imported for which customs duty has been reduced to 10 per cent till January 2021, the minister said.
About 30,000 tonnes of potato will arrive from Bhutan in the next few days, he added.
In a virtual press conference, Goyal said the retail prices of onion, potato and some of the pulses had increased. But for the last few days, the prices have been stable after the government took proactive measures, including ban on export of onion, to increase local supplies.
As a result, all India average retail price of onion has been ruling stable at around Rs 65 per kg, while that of potato at Rs 43 per kg, for the last three days, he added.
However to ensure consumers get these commodities at reasonable rates during the festival period, Goyal said the government has taken steps to import onion and relaxed fumigation norms till December.
“So far, 7,000 tonnes of onion has been imported by private traders. Another 25,000 tonnes of onion is expected to arrive before Diwali,” he said.
Onions are imported from countries like Egypt, Afghanistan and Turkey by private traders. Even Nafed will import on its own capacity, he added.
Further, the minister said along with imports, the arrival of new kharif onion crops in mandis from next month will improve the supply situation and ease pressure on prices.
Kharif onion is expected to hit mandis from next month. The government has pegged kharif and later kharif onion output lower by 6 lakh tonnes to 37 lakh tonnes in the current year.
Among other measures, Goyal said the government has banned export of onion seeds and imposed stock limits on traders to curb hoarding.
That apart, Nafed, which is holding about 1 lakh tonnes of buffer stock onion on behalf of the government, is offloading it in the open market to check prices. So far, Nafed has offloaded 36,488 tonnes.
To improve the supply of potato, the minister said, “We are going to import about 10 lakh tonnes of potato and bring prices under control and ensure the commodity is available to consumers during the festival period.”
About 30,000 tonnes of potato is arriving from Bhutan in the next couple of days, he said.
In case of pulses, the minister said prices of most pulses are stable now and in fact much lower than what they prevailed four years back.
However, to ensure smooth domestic supply, the government has extended the time-limit for import of 4 lakh tonnes of tur dal till December, Goyal said.
Licences have been issued for import of 1.5 lakh tonnes of urad, and import duty of 10 per cent on masoor will continue till December-end, he said.
The government has also decided to extend memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mozambique for import of 2 lakh tonnes of tur for another five years and also to enter into a five-year MoU with Myanmar for import of 2.5 lakh tonnes of urad, he added.