Agri Business

Decision to lift onion, wheat export ban next week

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 12, 2011

The Union Commerce Secretary, Dr Rahul Khullar, said on Saturday that the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food is expected to take up the issue of permitting exports of onion and wheat next week. Besides, the EGoM (headed by the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee) will also discuss the situation on rice, pulses and edible oils, he said.

“A decision will have to be taken on wheat exports. A Group of Secretaries comprising Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Revenue and Commerce Departments met on Friday. We took stock of the fact that godowns are full. The Agriculture Secretary felt that there is a bumper crop coming in. So we need to vacate space,” Dr Khullar told reporters.

But, he said, a final decision on allowing exports will be a political call and can only be taken by the EGoM.

About rice exports, Dr Khullar said 1,50,000 tonnes of three varieties of non-basmati rice have been allowed. “We are working out on how this will be done (whether to route it through State agencies). Let that get exported first. Then, I will come to see whether more (exports) needs to be done,” he said.

On onions, he said around 10-11 per cent of the output is exported and around 60 per cent of the country's onion crop is in late kharif and rabi. “This means all the onions you are going to eat till September are coming in now or will come in a month from now. If prices have crashed, it means you are getting a good late kharif and rabi. The problem is that with a bumper crop (of onion) estimated, if you don't release the pressure through an export window, the domestic market will crash. It is pure management of price expectations,” said Dr Khullar.

“Give it a couple of days, we have to take a decision (on completely lifting the export ban on onion),” he said.

The Government has partially lifted the ban on onion exports to allow shipments of two varieties — ‘Rose' (from Karnataka) and ‘Krishnapuram' (from Andhra Pradesh) — that are not consumed in the country and are meant for exports. The Agriculture Ministry is pressing for completely lifting the export ban on onions.

> arun.s@thehindu.co.in

Published on February 12, 2011

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