Agri Business

Now, onions bring tears to govt agencies

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on February 10, 2020 Published on February 10, 2020

File photo   -  PTI

MMTC, Nafed plan distress sale of yellow bulbs imported from Turkey

The great Indian fire sale is under way. The goods are not mobile phones hawked on e-commerce sites, but imported yellow onions from Turkey at a distress sale price of ₹10 per kg. MMTC Ltd is conducting the distress sale with the help of Nafed.

An investigation by BusinessLine has disclosed that the two Central government agencies are offering the yellow bulbs at the wholesale price of ₹10 a kg to State governments and other buyers ready to lift the stocks from the holding areas near JNPT and Mumbai port.

The wholesale price at Lasalgaon onion market was ₹1,780 per quintal (100 kg), which works out to ₹17.80 per kg, on Saturday. Lasalgaon market is the bench for onion prices in the country.

Sales under way

On February 5, MMTC decided to sell off 375 tonnes of Turkish onions on ‘as is where is’ basis, which in trade parlance means the seller takes no guarantee of the quality of the product. The goods are held at a Container Freight Station (CFS) near the JNPT port. MMTC has asked the bidders to keep their bids valid till 5.30 pm today.

Nafed (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd), the national agency for marketing of agricultural produce, is also doing the sale on behalf of MMTC.

A Nafed official told BusinessLine that 10,000 tonnes of Turkish onions were available on tap at the CFS near the two ports for State government buyers. MMTC had purchased the onions on behalf of the Centre. The shipments arrived in the last 30 days or earlier.

After last year’s excess monsoon rains destroyed the onion crop in Nashik area of Maharashtra, which has the largest cultivable area under onion in the country, prices started to spike on fears of reduced arrival.

After August 14, modal prices started to increase and by December 16, it had reached ₹8,625 per quintal, which was ₹86 per kg, while in major retail markets such as Mumbai and Delhi, prices jumped to ₹150 to 170 per kg. After January the prices started to taper down due to regular arrival of local onions.

To keep the seething consumers’ sentiments in check, the Centre jumped in the fray late October and had asked MMTC to start importing onion. But even as the onion laden containers were being unloaded in January, the domestic arrivals in APMC markets spiked, leaving MMTC and Nafed with huge stocks, some of which have started rotting.

Details unavailable

When BusinessLine contacted the MD of Nafed, his office in an email reply said that since MMTC was the designated agency for import onions, it should be approached for the details.

In spite of repeated efforts, MMTC top management was not available for comments on the distress sales of onions and the total volume of imported onions, which has become unfit for human consumption.

Published on February 10, 2020
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