The Maharashtra Government has approached the Centre seeking a three-month extension of the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) for onion exports. The scheme is slated to expire on June 30, 2017. Government officials confirmed that a proposal has been sent to the Centre seeking an extension of MEIS benefits for another three months. Lasalgaon APMC chairman Jaydutt Holkar has also sought an increase in the MEIS benefits to 10 % from the existing 5%. Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, in December last year, had written to the Centre and the scheme was extended till June 30, 2017. C B Holkar, former director NAFED said that the benefits should continue till October so that prices do not collapse further and farmers get the benefits. Thanks to a bumper crop of onion, market prices have not exceeded Rs 525 per quintal this season.
According to top industry experts, around 30 lakh tonne of onion still remains with farmers despite a record export of around 35 lakh tonne in the 2016-17 season. Under MEIS, 5% of grant is given to onion exporters as a coupon, which they can use for imports or withdraw as money. The duty benefits for export of both fresh and stored onions would be available till December 31. Under MEIS, the government provides duty benefits at 2%, 3% and 5% depending upon the product and country.
Farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which are among leading onion-producing states, took to distress sale of the produce due to higher supply this season and the situation had worsened to such an extent that farmers in Nashik district had claimed that they received 5 paise per kg rate for their produce.This had led to the extension of export duty benefits to onion for promoting its outbound shipments.
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It may be noted that onion exports went up 33% to Rs 2,362 crore in the first 11 months of 2015-16 on higher realisation of sales. India exported 10,86,072 tonne of onion for Rs 2,010 crore in 2014-15. As per market reports, the country grows around 115 lakh tonne of onion of which the total consumption is around 60 lakh tonne. After damages and losses of around 10 lakh tonne and exports of 10 lakh tonne, usually 30 lakh tonne still remain with farmers.