India’s onion export rose by 56 per cent to 12.29 lakh tonnes in April-July this year, but the country has now gone in for import of the kitchen staple as retail prices have shot up to Rs. 65-70 per kg because of tight supplies. In value terms too, onion exports increased by 47.69 per cent to Rs. 1,443.09 crore in the period under review, from Rs. 977.84 crore a year ago. Last week, the government allowed state-owned agencies like MMTC to import onion from countries like Egypt and China to increase availability and cool retail prices that have skyrocketed to Rs. 65-70 a kg level in many parts of the country. According to data maintained by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCIS), the country has exported 12.29 lakh tonnes of onion during April-July of 2017-18, up 56 per cent from 7.88 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period. “Exports increased during April-July because of two reasons: firstly, there was no minimum export price (MEP) and second, the global prices remained much higher,” the stateowned National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF) Director PK Gupta said. The exports helped farmers get better rates for their produce during the first quarter of the fiscal when local prices had fallen sharply. However, with old stocks getting depleted and rise in local prices, the exports have slowed, he said. According to the DGIS data, exporters realised Rs. 11,737 per tonne of onion during April-July of this fiscal. MEP is the minimum rate below which export is not allowed. Onion MEP was scrapped in Dec. 2015. Despite demand from Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, the MEP was not imposed in August when retail onion prices had started showing an upward trend.