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India imports onion from Pakistan

Last updated: 20 December, 2010
New Delhi, Dec 20, DHNS and Agencies 0:58 IST

Centre bans exports till Jan 15 as price soars to Rs 60-70 per kg

Shortage of onion in markets has brought in a role reversal for India, with the country on Monday receiving truck loads of the commodity from Pakistan to which it so far used to export the vegetable.

Skyrocketing prices of onion that touched Rs 60-70 a kg have also forced the Centre to suspend exports till January 15. A government statement also said agriculture cooperative major Nafed and the National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF) will sell onion at Rs 35 to Rs 40 from Tuesday through their retail outlets.

Thirteen truck loads (5 to 15 tonne per truck) of onion arrived from Pakistan, a senior official of Customs department in Amritsar said. “About five (Indian) importers have brought in onion from Lahore for supply in the markets of Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar in Punjab and Delhi,” the official said.

The cost of onion from Pakistan stood at Rs 18-20 per kg, he said. This included custom duty, cess, transportation and handling charges.

This is for first time that onion is being imported from Pakistan.

India mainly imports dry fruits from Pakistan and exports perishable commodities like onion, potato, tomato, garlic, livestock, cotton and maize by road.

“We exported onion to Pakistan in March and April. Now, we are importing it from them (Pakistan),” Rajdeep Uppal, managing director of a leading Amritsar trading company Narain Exim, said.

Uppal imported 100 metric tonnes (MT) of onion on Monday at $ 400 per MT. He plans to import 500 MT more soon from Sindh.

The shortage of onion in the markets is said to be due to low supply of crop from Maharashtra, Gujarat and the southern states.

However, according to Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, there is no major shortage and the price rise is due to “hoarding.”

“There is enough stock of onion in the country,” he said. Ministry officials also joined him in blaming “speculative forces” for the price rise. To them, “the damage to the crop due to off-season rain in bulk producing states will not have been more than 15-20 per cent.”

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