While the Centre has authorised the export of 54,760 tonnes of onions to Bangladesh, Mauritius, Bahrain, and Bhutan until March 31, the Horticulture Produce Exporters’ Association (HPEA) has urged for a “fair and just system” for onion exports, requesting the government to refrain from allocating export shipments to a select few exporters based on recommendations from the Ministry of External Affairs.

In a letter to the Centre onFebruary 23, the HPEA said, “The government plans to allow exports of the onions by private traders/exporters. In this respect, we pray your good self to follow a fair and just equitable system for distribution of quantity to our associate members and an amicable system be laid out for the same. We are sure you shall consider our request in a positive light as always.” A copy of the letter is with businessline.

Earlier, the HPEA had suggested the government to put in place standard operating procedures (SOPs) for effective implementation of export and equitable distribution, but it didn’t get any response.

Modus operandi

Some exporters have been accused of using a specific method to secure export contracts. These exporters reportedly reach out to foreign countries, asking their governments to request onion exports from India and nominate them as the chosen exporters.

Also read: Custom officials find onions being exported as tomatoes 

An exporter, speaking anonymously to businessline, expressed concern that if new contracts are awarded disproportionately to few such exporters based on Ministry of External Affairs’ recommendations, it would be detrimental to free trade, adversely affecting over 15,00 onion exporters in India.

Demand for probe

A prominent exporter in the field criticized the export ban for the general exporters while allowing a select few to export, who are reportedly making 300 percent profit.

Also read: Ban on onion based on wrong data, says Maharashtra agri costs body chief

“This practice is unfair and could lead to an uncontrollable trend. There should be a thorough investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and other agencies to bring the culprits to justice. Onion farmers, affected labourers, truck owners, bag suppliers, and struggling exporters need justice,” said the exporter.  

Echoing these sentiments, other exporter raised widespread concerns about the distribution of export opportunities and profits in the onion industry.