Agri Business

There are many layers to why there’s no export ban on this onion

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on November 09, 2019

The pungent-flavoured Bengaluru rose onion doesn’t have too many takers in the domestic market, but is popular in overseas markets such as Malaysia and Singapore   -  GRN SOMASHEKAR

Besides few takers & crashing prices, does Bengaluru rose onion have political undertones, too?

At a time when onion prices are bringing tears to consumers and the Centre has banned overseas shipment of the bulb, the export of one variety — the Bengaluru rose onion — has been allowed till the month-end, with a quantity restriction of 9,000 tonnes.

The growers had requested the Centre to exempt this variety from the export ban. They cited the crashing of its prices after export of all varieties of bulbs was curbed following supply disruptions fuelling a sharp price rise.

The GI-tagged Bengaluru rose onions are grown on about 10,000 acres in the districts of Chikkballapur, Kolar and Bengaluru Rural. The scarlet-coloured bulb is of a smaller size — 25-30 mm. It has a pungent flavour and not too many takers in the domestic market.

However, this onion variety enjoys good demand in countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. As a result, the bulk of the crop is exported. Merchant exporters largely ship out the produce from Chennai.

The annual production of Bengaluru rose onions is estimated at 70,000 tonnes, of which 55,000 tonnes are exported, while the rest is largely consumed in the coastal districts of Karnataka. In value terms, their exports stand at ₹300 crore.

To promote their cultivation and exports, Karnataka has been demanding a separate HS (harmonised system) Code for Bengaluru rose onions, which are currently shipped as generic onions.

The exporters of this variety have to get a certification from the Karnataka Horticulture Department and a registration certificate from the DGFT office in Bengaluru to ship the produce.

Political flavour?

Interestingly, Chikkaballapur is one of the 15 Assembly constituencies where by-elections are scheduled for December 5. For the ruling BJP in Karnataka, which currently holds 107 of the 224 seats, winning as many seats as possible in the by-elections is crucial to reach the simple majority of 113.

Published on November 09, 2019

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