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Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan come to the rescue as onion prices leave India in tears

The state-run trading firm MMTC has placed an import order of 4,000 tonnes from Turkey and the shipments are expected to reach by mid-January.

The state-run trading firm MMTC has placed an import order of 4,000 tonnes from Turkey and the shipments are expected to reach by mid-January.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Onion prices reach all-time high of ₹140 in several places

The sky-rocketing prices of onion has forced the Union government and traders to import the vegetable from foreign countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her reply during a discussion on supplementary grants, informed the Lok Sabha about the various measures taken by the government to deal with the rising prices of onion. She said there had been a fall in the area of onion cultivation and shortfall in production. “There are also several structural issues related to storage and the government is trying to address them.’’

While the price of onions has crossed ₹100 per kg because of shortage, the Minister said, “Steps taken by the government to check the rising price include ban on exports, imposition of stock limit, import and transfer from surplus to deficit area.’’

The state-run trading firm MMTC has placed another onion import order of 4,000 tonnes from Turkey and the shipments are expected to reach by mid-January.

This is in addition to 17,090 tonnes of onions already contracted, which includes 6,090 tonnes from Egypt and 11,000 tonnes from Turkey, it said in a statement.

MMTC is importing onions on the behalf of the government, which is trying to check prices of the key bulb by improving domestic supplies through various modes, including imports.

Onions from Afghanistan via Attari-Wagah

Around 10 to 15 trucks carrying onion from Afghanistan are arriving every day through the Attari-Wagah land route in Amritsar with the price of the key kitchen staple going through the roof.

Daily 10-15 trucks laden with onions are arriving from Afghanistan, said Anil Mehra, Federation of Karyana and Dry Fruit Commercial Association on Wednesday. Each truck carries 35 metric tonne of onion.

Though the trade between India and Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah land route remained suspended, trucks carrying onions continue to arrive from Afghanistan through this route under a bilateral transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Onion prices reached all time high of ₹140 in several states including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Assam and Odisha.

In Chennai, onions from Egypt have started arriving at the market, but in small numbers. This has not helped in controlling prices. Moreover, the quality is not good. The mismatch between demand and supply has seen costs escalate, traders said.

One kg of small onions is priced up to ₹140. Traders expect the price of onions to come down to ₹40-₹50 a kg only around Pongal, when a fresh crop is harvested and arrivals at the market begin to increase.

The Assam Assembly was informed on Wednesday that onion will be imported from Egypt and Turkey to improve the domestic supply of the staple and control its prices. Onion is now selling at ₹100 to ₹110 in the retail markets in the State.

Odisha awaits fall in prices

Amid the onion prices soaring to ₹120 a kg in open markets of the State, the Odisha government sought to provide succour to people, saying the cost of the vegetable bulb is likely to decline by January first week after production of new crop.

While the onion price in the open market was around ₹90 a kilo on Tuesday, it registered an overnight jump by ₹30 in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

The price of onion will come down by December end or by the first week of January, said Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister R.P. Swain.

He said the onion is being procured from other States like Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh as the production of the vegetable bulb here is not adequate.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:01:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/egypt-turkey-and-afghanistan-come-to-indias-rescue-as-onion-prices-soar/article30177813.ece

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