Onion export prices slashed to $150/tonne; domestic prices likely to firm up

Onion prices in the country are likely to firm up once exports pick up after the government yesterday reduced the minimum export price of the essential commodity to $150 per tonne from $350 earlier.

The decision was taken at a meeting between the agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma on Christmas day.

Pawar has been demanding a hike in MEP for onions following a sharp decline in the wholesale prices of onions in the mandies of main producing state of Maharashtra.

Onion prices have fallen from levels above Rs60 per kg in September to below Rs10 per kg at Lasalgoan in Maharashtra, the largest wholesale onion market in Asia, and retail prices have plummeted to below Rs30 per kg from levels above Rs80 per kg, farmers and traders are now questioning the wisdom of fixing minimum export price for onions at $350 per tonne.

The meeting was also attended by senior officials from the departments of agriculture and cooperation, consumer affairs and commerce.

An official release said the decision to review the MEP was taken after assessing the situation of arrivals in the producing and major consuming mandies, retail and wholesale modal rates as well as foreign trade scenario.

An inter-ministerial committee consisting secretaries of the departments of commerce, consumer affairs and agriculture will regularly and closely monitor the arrivals, wholesale modal prices and retail prices of onions in the country.

The government will make appropriate interventions in future as and when required to ensure price stability for consumers and adequate domestic availability of onions along with price protection for farmers with a view to balance the interests of both farmers and domestic consumers, an official release said.