"There is little response for Pakistani onions, which have been put up for open auction, from local customers," sources in Nafed said.
"Only some hoteliers have evinced interest in these big-size onions weighing 200-250 grams each," they added. Out of the 800 tonnes of Pakistani onions that have reached Delhi so far and have been put up for open auction in the last 10 days, 300 tonnes lies unsold, the sources said.
Onions imported from Pakistan by the government were handed over to agri-cooperative Nafed upon arrival in the national capital from the Mundra port in Gujarat via road. State-run PEC and STC had contracted about 1,000 tonnes of onions from Pakistan in the first week of January to boost the supply of the vegetable in the national capital, where retail rates had peaked at Rs 70-85 per kg in the last week of December.
Following the ban imposed by the Pakistani government on onion exports to India across the Wagah border in the first week of January -- after the cost of the vegetable soared in that country -- onions were transported to Indian ports by sea, from where they were brought to Delhi by road. About 800 tonnes out of the total imports of 1,000 tonnes of Pakistani onions have arrived in the national capital so far, Nafed sources said, adding that the rest will arrive soon.
While the bulk of the onions from the neighbouring country were given to cooperatives like Nafed, NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar for selling at a subsidised rate in Delhi, the remaining stock is being put up for open auction.
National Consumers Cooperative Federation Chairman (NCCF) Chairman Virendra Singh told PTI that the agency has incurred losses on the Pakistani onions and has now stopped procuring them.
"NCCF procured around 80 quintals of Pakistani-breed onions for subsidised sale to consumers in Delhi, which attracted little response... Considering losses, we have stopped procuring these onions now," Singh told PTI.
He said Mother Dairy (which is running about 300 outlets in Delhi) has also refused to take consignments of onions from Pakistan. While the central government is providing a 30 per cent subsidy on procurement of native onions, no similar facility is available for the Pakistani variety of the vegetable, Singh said.
"We had to sell it through 18 outlets of NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar, which attracted few customers," he said. Sources in PEC said the imported onions from Pakistan, which were contracted at a rate of around USD 658 (about Rs 30,268) per tonne, has resulted in a loss for the agency.
Rajendra Sharma, the General Secretary of the Onion Merchants Association at Azadpur Mandi -- Asia's biggest wholesale fruit & vegetable market -- said traders are saying that the Pakistani onions are thick and their "different" taste is not liked by Indian customers.