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Government Lifts Onion Export Ban for 6 Neighbouring Countries

The government has lifted the export ban on onions, allowing 99,150 MT to be exported to six neighboring countries, with Maharashtra as the primary supplier.

Saurabh Shukla
Government Lifts Onion Export Ban for 6 Neighbouring Countries (Photo Source: Canva)
Government Lifts Onion Export Ban for 6 Neighbouring Countries (Photo Source: Canva)

The Central government has given its nod for the export of 99,150 metric tons (MT) of onions to six neighboring countries: Bangladesh, UAE, Bhutan, Bahrain, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. This decision comes in the wake of concerns over lower Kharif and Rabi crops estimated for the year 2023-24 compared to previous years, coupled with increased demand in the global market.

The National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL) has been tasked as the agency responsible for facilitating the export process to these countries. They will source the onions domestically through an e-platform at the lowest (L1) prices and supply them to government-nominated agencies in the destination countries at negotiated rates, with payment required in full in advance. The pricing offered by NCEL takes into consideration prevailing rates in both the destination and international markets. Maharashtra, as the largest onion producer in the country, will serve as the primary source of onions for export.

Apart from regular onions, the government has also permitted the export of 2,000 MT of white onions specially cultivated for markets in the Middle East and select European countries. However, due to higher production costs associated with white onions, including increased seed costs and adherence to stringent agricultural practices and maximum residue limits, their export value is higher compared to other onion varieties.

To stabilize onion prices and ensure sufficient buffer stocks, the Department of Consumer Affairs has set a procurement target of 5 lakh tons of onions from the Rabi-2024 crop under the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF). Central agencies such as the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation (NCCF) and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED) are collaborating with local agencies like Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs), and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACs) to facilitate procurement, storage, and farmer registration.

A recent visit by a high-level team from the Department of Consumer Affairs, NCCF, and NAFED to Nashik and Ahmednagar Districts in Maharashtra aimed to raise awareness among farmers and local organizations about the procurement of onions for the PSF buffer.

Furthermore, to mitigate storage losses, the Department of Consumer Affairs has decided to increase the quantity of onions to be irradiated and cold-stored from 1200 MT last year to over 5000 MT this year.

This initiative, with technical support from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, follows a successful pilot project conducted last year, which resulted in storage losses of less than 10 percent.

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