India’s onion exports falls by 28% in 2013-14 because of curb in shipment last year

India’s onion exports falls by 28% in 2013-14 because of curb in shipment last year

Our bureau

New Delhi, Apr 1:

The country’s onion exports in the current fiscal is set to fall by more than 28% to 1.4 million tonne (mt) from 1.8 mt reported during 2012-13.

This sharp fall is mainly attributed to curb on onion exports put by the government during August – November period last year for improving domestic supply.

According to official data, the country has exported more than 1.3 mt of onion till middle of March, and in the last two weeks of current fiscal, more than one lakh tonne of key agricultural commodity would be shipped.

Total value of onion exports during April – March 2014 had been more than Rs 3000 crore . India, the second-largest onion producer in the world, had shipped 1.8 million tonne of key vegetable worth of Rs 2294 crore during 2012-13.

The latest data indicate that against a monthly shipment of more than 1 lakh tonne achieved during 2013-14 , the country could export only about 23,000 tonne in September last year and the shipment picked up pace only in December, 2013 after the government stated to reduce Minimum Exports Price (MEP).

“Export curb imposed last year pulled down overall shipment of onion from the country,” a Nafed official said. However with an expectation of bumper summer crop, which caters about 50% to 60% of the country’s domestic demand, the exports are expected to increase during next fiscal, the Nafed official said.

Due to decline in rabi or summer production, the retail prices rose to as high as Rs 90 per kg in many cities across the country in September last year which forced the government to import onion and hiked MEP.

The government had imposed higher MEP on onion in September 2013 at $ 900 per tonne and then it was hiked to $ 1100 per tonne subsequently for putting a curb on exports and boost domestic supplies as retail prices had rose sharply. In December 2013, the MEP was reduced to $150 per tonne.

In a boost to exports and put a curb on falling prices, the government last month had abolished the MEP of onion. Malaysia, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan and Singapore are the export destination of onion from India.

With increase in domestic supplies due to bumper kharif and late kharif crop, the prices have soften in the domestic market in the last two months. On Monday, the wholesale price at Nasik, the country’s hub of onion trade was in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 800 per quintal.

Onion production has risen from below 5.5 million tonne till 2002-03 to above 16 million tonne in the last three years. The production is expected to be more than 18 million tonne during 2013-14.

There are three crops cycle for the onion – Rabi (March-June), Kharif (October -December) and late Kharif (January-March). Rabi is a major crop which contributes about 60% of total production and kharif and late kharif account of 20% of annual output each.

The period between July and October is considered as lean period for production and demand during these months is met from the stored onion. Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kartakan are the key onion producing states.