Agri Business

Imported onions to be cheaper

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 07, 2020 Published on January 07, 2020

Stuck with stocks, Centre wants to sell them at cost; Paswan flags edible oil price rise

With some States going back on their commitment to lift imported onions, the Centre is saddled with a huge quantity of imported onions, forcing it to persuade the States to buy them at a cheaper rate.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Food and Consumer Affair Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the imported onions would be sold at landed price which is between ₹49 and ₹58 a kg. Earlier, the imported onions were sold to the States at ₹67 a kg.

“The Centre will bear the cost of transportation,” Paswan said.

“Imported onions are offered by the Government of India to States/Union Territories at no-profit no-loss basis for its direct retailing and distribution to the customers in the price range of ₹50-60 per kg,” the Department of Consumer Affairs said in a statement.

One of the reasons for poor offtake by the States could be the low consumer demand as the imported onions, which have less pungency, is not suitable for Indian palate. The department is forced to sell the imported bulbs at cost-price because many States, particularly Assam (10,000 tonnes), Maharashtra (3,480 tonnes), Haryana (2,500 tonnes), Karnataka (250 tonnes) and Odisha (100 tonnes), withdrew the demand that they had earlier placed with the Centre. A decision to persuade the States to buy onions at a cheaper rate was taken following a video conference of State Chief Secretaries convened by the Cabinet Secretary.

While the States earlier committed to procure a total of 33,139 tonnes of imported onions from the Centre, the revised demand came down to 14,309 tonnes with the above mentioned States withdrawing their demand.

Meanwhile, the Centre placed orders for importing 41,950 tonnes of onions through public sector MMTC. A quantity of 39,924 tonnes of onions are expected to arrive in the month of January, the department said.

In November last year, the Centre decided to import onions from countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Germany as onion prices started shooting up in most parts of the country on account of shortfall in production due to heavy rains in major onion producing States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

Subsequently, a committee of Ministers led by Home Minister Amit Shah was set up to monitor the price and availability of onions and this committee directed the MMTC to import onions from other countries, besides giving similar nod to private traders. Consumer Affairs Department Secretary AK Srivastava, quoting the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, said private traders have contracted a quantity of 75,000 tonnes so far.

Edible oil prices rising

Paswan also said edible oil prices have been creeping up in the last few months, even though there is no reason for an increase. “We are closely monitoring the situation,” the Minister said, hinting that the increase in prices could be due to hoarding by some traders.

Paswan also said that the One Nation One Ration Card scheme, through which consumers being able to buy their PDS provisions in other parts of the country, has now been extended to 12 States.

Published on January 07, 2020
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