Policy

Govt asks MMTC to import 10 000 tonnes of onion

State run MMTC would shortly float a global tender for import of onion. The Centre’s move aims to contain rise in prices of onion and ensure its increased availability
Govt asks MMTC to import 10 000 tonnes of onion

Spiraling retail onion prices has made the government jittery. Onion prices has touched Rs 80 per kg in the market. The Centre has geared up to contain the spiraling retail prices of onion and make it available at affordable prices. The government agencies have been roped in to import adequate quantity of onion to check price rise.

“In order to contain rise in prices of onion and ensure its increased availability, the Government of India has decided that MMTC will float a global tender for import of 10,000 MT of onion shortly, the Government of India has decided that MMTC will float a global tender for import of 10,000 MT of onion shortly,” Union Agriculture Ministry said in a statement issued here today.

Earlier, another state run agency NAFED had been assigned this task. But due to some limitation, the Centre roped in MMTC to import onion. "NAFED could not issue a global e-tender for import of 10,000 tonnes of onions. So, we have asked MMTC to import same quantity of onions as early as possible," a senior Agriculture Ministry official told PTI.

It is widely agreed that the onion imports would push domestic supply and check a further spike in prices. “MMTC has experience in issuing e-tenders and it would be able to contract onions from overseas markets like Pakistan, Egypt and China,” the official explained.

Last month, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) had floated a normal tender, due to which it did not receive a single response from the global suppliers. It had re-invited the tender last week. "We have been directed to cancel the tender. We could not issue an e-tender as we do not have the experience. Putting the e-tendering process in place would take at least 20-25 days. So, MMTC was asked to tender," said a NAFED official.

Meanwhile, Punjab traders have started importing onions in small quantities from Afghanistan through the Attari-Wagah land route. "A few traders have just started importing onion from Afghanistan. About 2-4 trucks of onions are being imported through the Attari-Wagah land route per day," Amritsar-based trader Rajdeep Uppal told the agency. The traders are finding it feasible to import the crop from Afghanistan in the wake of higher domestic prices, he added. Adding to consumers’ woes, the retail onion prices have shot up to Rs 80 per kg in the national capital due to tight supply despite the government’s efforts to keep a lid on prices.

Onion prices are hardening due to the fall in output and a sluggish supply of stored onions, which are meant for meeting demand during the lean July-September. Total onion production is estimated to be lower at 189 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than 194 lakh tonnes a year ago. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are the top three onion-producing states in the country.

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BK Jha is the Special Correspondent of Rural & Marketing. Prior to this he has been associated with The Hindustan Times, Political and Business Daily along with many other media organisations.
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