The Centre has hiked the minimum export price of (MEP) of onions to $ 1,150 per tonne for boosting domestic supplies and controlling prices which have been ruling at very high levels for about three months.

On September 19, the government had raised the MEP to $ 900 per tonne, from $ 650 per tonne imposed on August 14. Onions can’t be exported below the MEP.

This is the third hike in recent months aimed at discouraging exports. Although export volumes have come down, the domestic retail prices still remain at unaffordable level of Rs 60-70 per kilo in most parts of the country.

“Export of all varieties of onions...will be subject to a MEP of $ 1,150 per tonne,” Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification.

Traders said however that the latest MEP hike may only create some “psychological impact” because overseas shipments, in any case, are not happening as market players are getting better rates in the domestic market.

Onion exports in August had come down substantially to 29,000 tonne after a minimum floor price was imposed on shipping them in the overseas markets.

The government has been keeping a close watch on the price situation and has taken several measures to improve supplies including more imports.

The Centre has also directed all state governments to crack down on hoarders and speculators who are keeping onion prices artificially high.

There is short supply of onions as much of the stored crop from last year exhausted. New crop from South India is yet to arrive in huge quantities in consuming states.

Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat are some of the main onion producing states.

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