The government has increased the minimum export price of onion to $650 per tonne, in a bid to preclude export of cheaper varieties, even as it allowed authorised agencies to import the commodity, in a bid to push down skyrocketing prices in the domestic markets.
A DGFT notification said, ''export of onion will be permitted subject to a minimum export price (MEP) of $650 per metric ton FOB or as notified by DGFT from time-to-time''.
Export of all varieties of onions will be subject to a minimum export price (MEP) of $650 per metric ton, it added.
While varieties, such as Bangalore Rose and Krishnapuram, which are hardly consumed in the domestic market due to their high pungency but are mostly exported to the Far East, it is not known if these varieties will be exempt from the MEP norm.
These decisions were taken at a meeting of an inter-ministerial group (IMG) consisting officials from the ministries of commerce, agriculture and consumer affairs.
Meanwhile, the government has authorised apex cooperative marketing organisation NAFED (National Agricultural Marketing Federation) to import onion from countries such as China and Egypt.
The government may also allow relaxations in quarantine norms for agricultural products in order to speed up supplies.
NAFED has also been directed to procure 4 to 5 tonnes of the commodity directly from farmers and APMCs at mandis in Rajasthan each day for supply through retail outlets and mobile vans in Delhi, besides undertaking wholesale auction of the stock through Azadpur APMC in Delhi.
NAFED will also procure onions at thr best prevailing rates from mandis of Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon at Nasik in Maharashtra and supply them to all state marketing and supply federations at a nominal service charge of 2 per cent.
However, imports are expected to take time and until at least till a few weeks, onion prices in the domestic markets are expected to remain firm.
Onion is currently being sold across India at prices varying from Rs55 to Rs80 per kg and is unlikely to fall at least till importwed stocks arrive, at the retail markets.