In a move to boost domestic supply and moderate prices, the Central government on Wednesday relaxed import norms for onion. It also stated that it will offload more onion from buffer stock in coming days to check prices.
"To facilitate the import of onion, the government has, on 21.10.2020, relaxed the conditions for fumigation and additional declaration on Phytosanitary Certificate under the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for import upto December 15, 2020," the government stated.
The Indian High Commissions have been instructed in the relevant countries to contact the traders for pushing for greater imports of onions to the country.
The government also said that 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.
If Stem and Bulbs nematode (Ditylenchus Dipsaci) or onion maggot (Hylimia antiqua) is detected, it would be eliminated through fumigation and the consignments to be released with no additional inspection fee.
"An undertaking will be obtained from the importers that the onion will be use only for consumption and not for propagation. Such consignments of onions for consumption will not be subjected to four times additional inspection fee on account of non compliance of conditions of import under the PQ order, 2003," the statement read.
On the offloading of more onion from buffer stock, the government said that on 14 September, it took a pre-emptive measure by announcing a ban on onion export to ensure availability to domestic consumers at reasonable rates during the lean season before the Kharif onion arrival. While the rate at which retail prices increase had been moderated to some extent, recent instances of heavy rain fall in the major growing districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh had caused damage to standing Kharif crop, stored onion and seed nurseries. These developments on the weather front have resulted in sharp increase in onion prices.
The government has built up onion buffer stock from the Rabi onion – 2020. In order to moderate prices, onion from the buffer stock is being released in calibrated manner from second half of September, 2020 to major mandis, to retail supplier such as Safal, Kendriya Bhandar and NCCF and also to State Governments. More will be done in the coming days.
An estimated Kharif Crop of 37 LMT is also likely to start arriving in the Mandis that will give reprieve to the rising prices.
The retail price of onion has shown marked increased from end of August 2020, though the price level was below that of last year till October 18. A sharp spike in prices of onion in past 10 days by ?11.56 per kilo has taken the all-India retail price of onion to ?51.95 per kilo which was 12.13% higher than the last year’s price of ?46.33 per kg, it stated.