Govt cautious on onion prices, to keep import window open

Posted By: Pti
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New Delhi, Jan 30 (PTI) To prevent a repeat of last monthsituation when exorbitant onion prices stung the common man totears, the government today said it is open to importing moreof this vegetable to ensure better supply to masses.

"I have kept my import window open. I do not know whatwill happen tomorrow, I do not know what will happen dayafter," Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told PTI.

He was replying to a query if the government wouldconsider lifting ban on onion export and stop importing thiskitchen staple through public sector firms - STC and PEC - asprice of the vegetable has starting coming down.

The onion prices have come down to about Rs 35-40 a kg inthe national capital. Its prices rocketed to as high as Rs70-85 per in December 20.

Cooperatives like NCCF, Kendriya Bhandar and Mother Dairyare selling onion at Rs 24 per kg in the national capital.

The downward price trend in onion is attributed tosoftening of the vegetable rate in the open market.

The Centre had last month abolished import duties ononion and banned its exports for indefinite period to improveits supply in the domestic market.

Acute scarcity of onions after unseasonal rains hit theKharif crop in Maharashtra and Karnataka, the states thattogether account for almost 50 percent of the country''s totalproduction, leading to an escalation in its wholesale andretail prices.

The spike in this kitchen staple''s price led the state-run trading firms to import about 1,100 tonnes of onion fromPakistan.

Khullar claimed that the onion imported from Pakistan wassold at Rs 18-20 per kg in the Azadpur mandi.

Approximately 60 per cent of the country''s onion crop isgrown during the rabi season, while the rest is harvested inthe kharif and late kharif seasons.

The country''s onion output is likely to dip by over 12per cent to 10.5 million tonnes in the 2010-11 crop year dueto untimely and erratic rains last year. India produced 12million tonnes of onions in the 2009-10 crop year. Onions aregrown in three seasons -- kharif (summer), late kharif andrabi (winter).

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