Indian govt eases norms for onion import
New Delhi, Sept 7:
In a bid to ease norms for the onion imports during next few weeks, the agriculture ministry has relaxed the quarantine norm on mandatory fumigation prior to the agricultural commodity being shipped to the country.
According to an official statement, the consignments of imported onions would arrive in Indian ports without fumigation and would subsequently fumigated by the importer through an accredited agency.
Sources said this measure would reduce time taken for imports of onion into the country as the government has already approved imports of about 3 lakht tonne of key agricultural commodity during next few weeks.
However the imported consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India, the official statement said.
A commerce ministry official said that mandatory fumigation is an Indian specific requirement against pest control which many of the onion producing countries do not follow.
“Indian importers have already contracted to import onion mostly from the Egypt, China and Afghanistan which have started to arrive in the Indian ports during next one month,” the official said.
The government had decided to import a small quantity of onion, as because of the delays in monsoon arrival in key growing areas of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the kharif arrivals would be delayed by atleast a month thus pushing up prices in the later part of September and October.
“Besides, the onion supplies is likely to be hit in the next few weeks as a portions of summer crop was hit by hailstorms in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in March thus impacting the quality,” an agriculture ministry official said.
“We wanted to avoid spike in onion prices in September and October by easing importing,” the commerce ministry official said.
The official said the period between July – September is a sensitive period during which onion prices rise as demand is met through stored crops from summer output.
Meanwhile, the onion prices stabling in the last few weeks, the cabinet recently decided to slash minimum exports price (MEP) to $ 350 per tonne from $ 500 per tonne imposed in July.
The government had imposed higher MEP to discourage exports as domestic prices started to rise sharply in July to deficit rainfall in key growing regions.
Due to delay in monsoon arrivals in key growing reasons led to spike in onion prices across the country in June. The retail prices of the key agricultural commodity even rose to Rs 40 per kg in few cities in anticipation of delay in kharif crop arrival last month.
The country exported 1.3 million tonne of onion during 2013-14 out of the total output of 19.2 million tonne. The domestic onion demand during the lean period from June – November is met through stored rabi (winter) and fresh kharif (summer) produce.