Suspend onion imports by another 10 days: NCCF to govt

"Recent import of onions from China and Pakistan have created panic among our farmers and many of them have started harvesting the crop prematurely so that they do not incur losses," National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India Ltd (NCCF) Chairman Virendra Singh told reporters.

While 11 tonnes of onions contracted by a private trading house landed at Mumbai on Friday, another 200 tonnes imported by state-run PEC and STC reached the Mundra Port in Gujarat on the same day.

"We are not questioning decision of the government (to go for import of onions to replenish domestic supplies), but it will be better if its shipments are suspended for the next 10 days, by when the situation will improve substantially," Singh said in reply to a question that Commerce Minister Anand Sharma has favoured more imports of onions.

The NCCF Chairman claimed the onions shipments that arrived recently in the country from China and Pakistan were not of good quality.

"Onions landing at Mumbai last week from China are big in size, each weighing about half-a-kg. It's full of water and not pungent," he added.

"Pakistani onions, I have not seen personally," he said, adding, "In any case, Indian onions are far superior to them."

The import has made our farmers "unhappy", Singh said voicing the concerns of the farmers.

"We received reports that many onion farmers in Gujarat and Maharashtra have started plucking their crops prematurely due to this," he claimed.

Accompanied by NCCF Managing Director M K Khan, Singh claimed the onion imports have in fact delayed amelioration of the domestic situation by almost a week.

Singh said the situation has started improving and claimed the price of onions will come down to the comfortable level of Rs 25-28 a kg in retail markets of the country in the next 10 to 15 days.

The NCCF chief said the cooperative acted promptly to the crisis situation by selling onions at a subsidised rate of Rs 35/kg at its outlets, as directed by the government.
In addition to its 15 NCCF outlets in the national capital, the cooperative has 10 mobile vans selling onions at same rate of Rs 35/kg, he said.

Singh hailed Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for acting promptly to provide relief to the citizens with the help of cooperatives and said NCCF has promised assistance to other state governments too.

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