Govt to import onions, potatoes to tame rising prices

Centre looks at imports to tame rising prices of onion, potatoes

The government has relaxed fumigation norms for the import of onion and the export of onion seeds has been banned

Vendors wait for customers to sell onions as the vegetable prices continue to soar in the country, at a wholesale market in Kolkata, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Credit: PTI Photo

Potatoes from Bhutan, onions from West Asia, pulses from Mozambique, Myanmar - the Modi government has turned its focus on imports to tame the rising prices of essential commodities ahead of the festive season. 

Addressing a press conference here, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said 7,000 tonnes of onions, mostly from west Asian countries, have already hit the domestic markets leading to stabilisation of prices of the bulb which had touched Rs 100 per kg in some retail markets.

Another 25,000 tonnes of onions are expected to land at Indian shores before Diwali on November 15 which would be followed by the late Kharif crop from domestic farmlands.

Goyal said that 30,000 tonnes of potatoes were expected to reach Indian markets from Bhutan in the next few days, while contracts for importing tur from Mozambique and urad from Myanmar were being renewed to ensure steady supplies of the pulses.

“We are going to import about 10 lakh tonnes of potatoes and bring prices under control,” he added.

Goyal added that retail prices of onions have been stable for the past three days at Rs 65/kg, while potatoes have been retailing at Rs 42/kg, as the Centre took “timely measures” to boost domestic supplies.

The minister said that onion was being imported from countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, and Turkey by private traders. He said Nafed has invited private parties to import onions with an offer to procure it after it lands at Indian shores.

The government has relaxed fumigation norms for the import of onion and the export of onion seeds has been banned.

Among other measures, stock limits have been imposed on traders to curb hoarding and black marketing. Nafed, which has a buffer stock of onion on behalf of the government, has offloaded 36,488 tonnes of the bulb in the market to cool down prices.