The country is likely to register the highest record for export of onions and may cross the 30 lakh tonnes mark soon this season. So far, the highest exports of onion have not gone beyond 18 lakh tonnes but this time the exports from India are very healthy, thanks to a stability in policies, senior officials of the Maharashtra State Marketing Board said.
As per the figures available on the National Horticultural Research & Development Foundation (NHRDF), the country has crossed the export figure of 23.998 lakh tonnes from April 2016 to December 2016. As per Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) records, the export figures for the nine month period April 2016 to December 2016 is around 16.56 lakh tonnes.
According to senior officials of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), the figures of January, February and March 2017 are yet to be released and if these are taken into account, alongwith the bumper crop and large arrivals in the market, the figure should easily cross around 30 lakh tonnes.
MSAMB officials maintain that the export figure of the country is likely to cross the 22 lakh tonnes mark. Maharashtra accounts for 80% of the country’s production and exports as well, Nanasaheb Patil, director, NAFED and chairman, Lasalgaon Kharedi Vikri Sangh said.
According to him, both the Maharashtra and central governments deserve credit for three major decisions which helped the onion crop. These include the decision to remove Minimum Export Price (MEP), extending Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for onion until March 31, 2017, and giving more railway rakes to ship onion.Usually, every country exports some 10-12 lakh tonnes of onion but these policies helped Indian exporters and we got an edge in international markets, he said. “This is for the first time that the MEP has remained at zero levels for one year and a quarter. At no point has the policy with regard to MEP remained for more than 3 months.
MEP was kept at zero since December 2015. Earlier it used to fluctuate and it affected exports. Importing countries usually look for quality and steady supply and this time India could offer both,” he pointed out, adding that the MEIS scheme also helped. By November 2016 exports had touched 20 lakh tonnes.
By March 2017 about 30-40 lakh tonnes extra onion is likely to be exported, Patil stated.MEIS under Foreign Trade Policy of India (FTP 2015-20) is a 5% incentive given on export of onion. This subsidy has helped exporters to purchase onion for exports and keep prices stable in the markets. Earlier, the scheme deadline was December 2016 but chief minister Devendra Fadnavis lobbied intensively with the Centre for extending the scheme until March 31, 2017.
With a bumper harvest of ‘red’ variety onion crop, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) yards in Nashik are flooded with onion and prices remain low. On Thursday, arrivals at Lasalgaon — the country’s largest wholesale market for the bulb was around 23,000 quintals with the minimum price at R300 per quintal and maximum at R635 per quintal to average at R500 per quintal. Arrivals were 18,000 quintals the earlier day and 26,000 quintals on Tuesday.
According to MSAMB officals, there has been a record plantation this season as well which has resulted in bumper crop because of a good monsoon. The area under Kharif was around 0.63 lakh hectares in 2015-16 and 0.60 lakh hectares in 2016-17, in late Kharif it was 1.29 lakh hectares in 2015-16 and 0.82 lakh hectares in 2016-17 and Rabi it was 3.30 lakh hectares in 2015-16 and 3.21 lakh hectares in 2016-17.
While the area may not have increased much, productivity increased because of good rains. The state’s total Rabi onion production alone is 50 lakh tonnes. India mainly exports to the Middle East, Gulf, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Qatar. India is also the world’s second largest exporter after China.