Public sector trading firm MMTC has contracted to import 6,090 tonnes of onion to boost domestic supply and ease prices, according to sources. Last week, the Union Cabinet decided to import 1.2 lakh tonnes of onions to improve the domestic supply and control prices, which touched Rs 100 per kg earlier this month. Retail prices are ruling at around Rs 70 per kg in the national capital.
Consumer Affairs Secretary A K Srivastava held a review meeting with various states on demand, supply and prices of this key kitchen item.
Sources said it was informed that MMTC has contracted 6,090 tonnes of onion and the consignment from Egypt would reach Mumbai port soon.
While MMTC has been tasked to import onions, cooperative Nafed will supply the key kitchen items in the domestic market.
On November 19, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said production in kharif and late-kharif seasons of 2019-20 is estimated to fall 26 per cent to 5.2 million tonne, putting pressure on supply and prices.
In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Paswan said onion is a seasonal crop with harvesting period of rabi (March to June), kharif (October to December) and late-kharif (January-March). During July to October, the supply in the market comes from stored onions from rabi season.
“During 2019-20, there was a 3-4 weeks delay in sowing as well as decline in sown area of the kharif onion because of late arrival of monsoon. Further, untimely prolonged rains in the major growing states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh during the harvesting period caused damage to the standing crops in these regions,” Paswan had said.
As a result, the minister said the production of kharif crop was affected.
The rains during September-October also hit transportation of crop from these producing regions to consuming centres, he had said.
“This led to limited availability of kharif onions in the market and has put pressure on its prices,” Paswan had said.
The minister said the government has banned onion exports and imposed stock limits to boost domestic supply and check prices.