Onion stays out of reach despite moves to import 30,000 tonnes

13 Dec 2019


The union government has contracted additional 12,660 tonnes of onions taking the total import quantity to more than 30,000 tonnes, but onion prices in the domestic market continue to rule around the Rs100 a kg level in most places.

The centre has contracted an additional 12,660 tonnes of onion, which takes the total quantity of imports that have been contracted so far to more than 30,000 tonnes. However, the contracted imports will begin arriving in India from 27 December 2019 and retail prices of the bulb will continue to remain high at least till that time.
Meanwhile, the Department of Consumer Affairs has also directed MMTC to issue fresh tenders for additional 15,000 tonnes of onion (three new tenders of 5000 tonnes each) today.
Earlier, on 9 December 2019, the centre revised downward the stock holding limit of retailers from 5 tonnes to 2 tonnes. The stock limit for wholesalers, however, was kept unchanged at 25 tonnes. Importers continue to remain exempted from these stock limits for imported onions.
Union minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan had also written a letter to all chief ministers asking them to carry out anti hoarding operations to ensure supplies in the markets are augmented and stock holding limits are strictly enforced.
Onion prices, however, are ruling above the Rs100 a kg levels, even as the government said central agencies have so far contracted imports of more than 30,000 tonnes of the commodity.
According to earlier reports, MMTC had contracted 4,000 tonnes of onions from Turkey in addition to 17,090 tonnes already contracted. But these are expected to arrive only by mid-January 2020, which means that prices will only rise further.
Certain relaxations have been provided in the new tenders issued such as size range of onions have been expanded to 40 mm-80 mm, consortium bidding has been allowed, exporters can offer shipment in multiple lots. Additionally, fumigation condition relaxations that were earlier provided till 30 November 2019 have now been extended till 31 December 2019. 
A coordination committee is holding meetings on a daily basis with participation from officials of MMTC, NAFED, CONCOR and associated ministries and departments. The ministry of shipping has also assured that it will provide priority landing/docking for the ships containing the imported onions and will also be appointing a nodal officer at JNPT, Mumbai for ensuring speedy arrivals and onward distribution/dispatch.
The government has also planned procurement of domestically produced Onions are procured from major onion producing states to be distributed across all consuming states as per the demand placed by them.
On Tuesday, the centre revised stock holding limit on onions to 25 tonnes on wholesalers and 5 tonnes on retailers. Importers will be exempted from these stock limits for imported stock.

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