An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food is scheduled to meet in New Delhi on Tuesday to review the ban on onions amid protests by growers in the key producing regions against the prohibition.
The government had imposed a ban on onion export on September 9 to check spiralling prices of the bulb which touched Rs. 25 a kg in retail in the national capital.
“We will take a view on the onion export ban tomorrow,” Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told reporters on Monday.
Asked whether the ban will be lifted, he merely said “let us see”.
Mr. Pawar pointed out there were problems in supply of onions 2-3 weeks back because of excess rains in the major producing regions of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka.
However, the Minister noted the situation would improve due to prospects of late kharif bumper production of onion.
“Next crop is expected to be huge. In November, December and January there will be sufficient availability of onions in the markets,” he said adding this could even lead to a situation where the prices could be lower than the production cost.
Referring to protests by Nashik onion farmers and traders, Mr. Pawar said this is “perhaps the first time the farmers are not bringing their produce to markets”.
“This is benefiting farmers of Rajasthan as they are getting better price for their produce in Delhi...It is good opportunity for them,” Mr. Pawar, who had made a trip to Jaipur last week, observed.
While the wholesale prices of the onions saw a dip by Rs. 2-5 per kg in Delhi after ban on exports, the decision had triggered protests from farmers in the key producing regions of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Farmers in Nashik district and Bangalore had refused to bring their produce to markets protesting the drop in their profit level due to ban on onion export.
Earlier, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had also said in Mumbai that EGoM would meet on September 20 to consider the demand for lifting the ban on onion exports.
Mr. Mukherjee had also chaired a meeting in Mumbai on Saturday last to discuss issues such as lifting of ban on onion exports.
The meeting was attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and representatives of farmers.