Centre relaxes inspection norms for imported onion

To speed up onion imports, Agriculture Ministry eased the phytosanitary rules that levied four-time the inspection fees. (PTI Photo)

As onion prices continued to surge, the Union government on Wednesday relaxed quarantine rules for import of the kitchen staple to ensure speedier access to the market.

However, with officials expecting a 30-40% decline in the early kharif onion due to unseasonal rains in Karnataka and Maharashtra, prices are expected to remain high till November end.

The rise of onion’s price to Rs 80/kg in the national capital has jolted the Centre into action with Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan reviewing the supplies of the kitchen staple and issuing directions for quick relief.

Paswan said that onion supply has declined from Karnataka and Maharashtra due to unseasonal rains that damaged the kharif crops. He pegged the decline in production of kharif onions between 30% and 40%.

Winter onion supplies usually arrive in the markets by late October or early November. This year, however, that has not been the case.

To speed up onion imports, Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday eased the phytosanitary rules that levied four-time the inspection fees on onions that arrive at Indian ports without fumigation for pests and diseases.

“Such consignments of imported onions which arrive in Indian port without fumigation and endorsement to that effect on the PSC, would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider,” an official statement said. It added that such consignments would be inspected by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India.

The government has already banned the export of raw and processed onions, imposed stock holding limits on traders besides offloading buffer stock at a cheaper rate of Rs 24.90/kg to provide relief to consumers.

The central government has decided to dispatch teams of officials to onion-growing states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra to assess the situation and facilitate supplies to consumer regions. It has also asked Indian missions in Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt
and Iran to facilitate
import of onions through private traders.

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