Dhimant Bhatt

Mumbai, Sept. 13

ONION exports from the western region have virtually halted this month due to higher domestic prices and shortage of quality onion for overseas sales.

Onion export is canalised through the National Agricultural Co-Operative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) and other 12 State agencies directly or through their registered associate shippers.

"The federation has so far registered just 200 tonnes for the current month which is lowest in the recent past," an official with Nafed told Business Line.

Onion exports were reported around 2,500-3,000 tonnes last month. Exports during the April-August period of the current fiscal are estimated to be at 2,93,000 tonnes, down from 4,46,000 tonnes during the corresponding period last year, according to Nafed sources.

Nafed has increased minimum export price (MEP) by about $70 a tonne for the current month following steep rise in domestic prices over previous month.

MEPfor the current month are: $240 a tonne (break bulk) and $245 a tonne (container) on c&f basis for Dubai and Sharjah, $215 a tonne (container) on c&f basis for Malaysia and $240 a tonne (container) on c&f basis for Singapore.

Nafed, along with all canalising agencies including representatives of onion exporters, fixes the MEP for next months' export shipments.

"Exports have suffered due to high moisture level in our onion and stiff competition with China in the Far-East market. We are almost on par with Chinese onion for Malaysia and Singapore destinations. Also, we are facing competition with Pakistan in the West Asia region," a local exporter said.

"Export demand will continue to remain limited. I think export will pick up from November once fresh arrivals start," he said.

In the domestic market, onion prices at Vashi APMC market have declined marginally to around Rs 110-130 for 10 kg as against last week's level of Rs 130-150. "Local prices are expected to rule firm till mid-October," Mr Amrutlal Gala, a leading dealer, said.

In Maharashtra, ready stocks of onion in the Nashik and Pune districts were damaged due to heavy rainfall last month. As a result, domestic prices shot up to Rs 1,100 a quintal, Mr Gala added.

However, arrivals from Maharashtra and Gujarat are expected from November end onwards.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 14, 2005)
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