Govt No Longer Keen On Floor Prices For Onion Exports
New Delhi, September 6: The government is no longer considering imposing a minimum export price (MEP) on onions. Imports contracted by private agencies will continue to flow in over the next two-three weeks keeping prices in check, following which the early kharif produce would arrive in the market.
“Prices of onions at the mandis have fallen considerably after imports have started coming in. The orders already placed would continue to flow in for the next 15-20 days preventing domestic prices from spiking. Then it will be time for the early kharif produce to come into the market, which would again put downward pressure on prices,” a government official explained.
The inter-ministerial group (IMG) on onions, which has representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution has, therefore, shelved the option of imposing a MEP on onions to check exports for the time being, the official added.
Last month, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had asked the Commerce & Industry Ministry to impose a MEP on onions to check spiralling prices.
The IMG had not gone ahead with the proposal and had preferred to wait and watch.
With private traders subsequently importing about 2,400 tonne of onions, mostly from Egypt, and another 9,000 tonnes on the way, the Centre believes that prices would remain in check. “Prices have gone down from the earlier highs of ? 22-23 per kg at the mandi level to about ?15-16 per kg. The situation seems to be comfortable at the moment,” the official said.
The Centre had imposed MEP on onions in 2014 to discourage exports and check a steep rise in prices, and had started lowering it the following year when the situation improved. The MEP was completely withdrawn in December 2015, following which exports of onions from the country increased substantially.
Exports rose 25 per cent to $472.73 million in 2015-16 compared to $376.56 million in 2014-15. In 2016-17, too, the levels reached the previous year were mostly maintained with shipments valued at $462.94 million.