Onion prices shoot to new highs

Onions are bringing tears at home as the prices have shot up to Rs. 50-65 per kilogram in most cities at present due to tight domestic supplies, which got exhausted as plenty of exports were undertaken in the first four months of this fiscal. The new 2017- 18 Kharif crop — which is being harvested currently — is also expected to be less owing to fall in acreage. Taking stock of the situation, the government is mulling over reimposing a minimum export price (MEP) of USD 700-800 per tonne on onion to curb exports and check local prices, PTI reported quoting a government source. MEP is the minimum rate below which export is not allowed. Onion MEP was scrapped in December 2015. “In the meeting, it has been decided to impose the MEP to restrict onion exports and control spiralling domestic prices,” the government source told PTI. India’s onion export rose by 56% to 12.29 lakh tonnes in April-July this year, but the country has now gone in for import of the kitchen staple because of tight supplies. It may be noted that 40% of the country’s total onion crop is produced in the Kharif season, and the rest during the rabi season. The Kharif crop, however, cannot be stored. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat are major onion-producing states. Earlier this month, 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% from 7.88 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.