The government on Saturday said it will import 1 lakh tonnes of onion to control prices that have risen sharply to around Rs 100/kg at some places, including the national capital. While state-owned trading firm MMTC will import onions, cooperative Nafed will supply the key kitchen staple in the domestic market. This decision was taken at a meeting of a committee of secretaries held on Saturday. "The government has taken a decision to import one lakh tonnes of onion to control prices," Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in a tweet.
The MMTC has been asked to import onions and make it available for distribution in the domestic market, between November 15 and December 15 period, he added. Nafed has been directed to supply imported onions across the country, the minister said. Last week, the government had said it will import "substantial" quantity of the key kitchen staple from UAE and other countries to augment the domestic availability.
According to MMTC, one tender will close on November 14 and the second on November 18. The first shipment of 2,000 tonnes should arrive at Indian ports immediately, while the second one can be delivered by December-end. Bidders should quote for a minimum quantity of 500 tonnes. In case of inland container depot, the minimum bid quantity would be 250 tonnes. The exact supply order will be regulated in units of 250 tonnes, depending upon the requirement.
Fresh onion can be imported from any country but the shipment should adhere to the phytosanitary and fumigation conditions, it added. It may be noted that MMTC did not get positive response for its earlier onion import tender for 2,000 tonnes. The government is also trying to facilitate import of onion through private traders from Egypt, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, for which phytosanitary and fumigation norms have been liberalised till November 30.
Onion prices have risen sharply for more than a month due to tight supply. The retail prices have increased up to Rs 100 per kg in the national capital and ruling in the range of Rs 60-80 per kg in other parts of the country, as per the trade data. The prices are under pressure due to 30-40 per cent fall in the domestic production of kharif (summer) onion, owing to heavy rains in the main growing states of Maharasthra and Karnataka.
(PTI copy the only headline changed)