Ban on onion export hurts ‘Bangalore Rose’

Updated - September 15, 2020 11:05 pm IST

Published - September 15, 2020 11:02 pm IST - Bengaluru

‘Bangalore Rose’ variety of onion is grown around Chickballapur, Bengaluru Rural, and Kolar districts in Karnataka.

‘Bangalore Rose’ variety of onion is grown around Chickballapur, Bengaluru Rural, and Kolar districts in Karnataka.

Farmers growing ‘Bangalore Rose’ onions could be in trouble, as the Centre on Monday notified an immediate ban on export of all onion varieties owing to a spike in the domestic price of onions.

Trouble stems from the fact that this variety is not popular domestically because of its pungent nature, but has a high demand in Southeast Asian countries. The Centre, when it banned export last year too, later provided an exemption for the export of Bangalore Rose for this reason.

Stuck at port

“Nearly 90% of Bangalore Rose onions are exported and we do not have a local market for this variety. Following the ban, nearly 40 containers of onion headed for export are stuck at the Chennai port. We have been severely affected by the ban,” said S.R.V. Ramasamy, director of the Chennai-based Ramasamy Exports and Imports Pvt. Ltd. He said the government should have given a window for the completion of exports, as was done in the past.

Grown on about 5,000 acres around Chickballapur, Bengaluru Rural, and Kolar districts, Bangalore Rose onion received the GI tag in 2014 for its exclusivity. The crop is also grown in pockets of Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

While 80% of the production comes in the rabi season, about 15% comes in kharif season, and the remaining comes as summer crop. The annual production of this variety is estimated to be around 60,000 tonnes, of which about 90% is exported to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan, among other Southeast Asian countries, where it is used in seasoning, pickling, and in the form of dehydrated powder.

According to Mr. Ramasamy, farmers too will feel the heat of the ban. “Many exporters may end up deferring payments since overhead costs are very high. This is a highly perishable product. Because of the heavy rains this year, the shelf life has been reduced. The longer it remains with us, the greater will be the losses. If the onions lose weight because of evaporation of moisture, it will affect us further,” he said.

Echoing the sentiments of exporters, sources in the Horticulture Department said there was no need to ban export of rose onion as traditionally it had no takers domestically. “While the rabi crop has been exported, the summer crop still remains with the farmers, who will not be able to sell it in the local market. The export potential of the onion had helped farmers get a good price for their produce,” an official said.

‘Make an exception’

Another official said the price had dropped to as low as ₹6 a kg at farm gate during the early part of the COVID-19 lockdown when exports were affected. “On an average, farmers realise between ₹16 and ₹18 a kg, which is a good price. If the ban stays, farmers will be affected severely,” he said, adding that the responsibility of convincing the Centre to give exemption was with the State government. “When export of Bangalore Rose onion was banned last time, the Horticulture Department got an exemption and a team of officials sat in Chennai to certify the onions that were being exported,” he recalled.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.