With few takers, Pakistan onions lying unutilised in markets

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Onions imported from Pakistan atthe height of the supply crisis are attracting fewer customershere due to their "different" taste, resulting in large stocksof the vegetable lying unsold in the market.

"There is little response for Pakistani onions, whichhave been put up for open auction, from local customers,"sources in Nafed said.

"Only some hoteliers have evinced interest in thesebig-size onions weighing 200-250 grams each," they added.

Out of the 800 tonnes of Pakistani onions that havereached Delhi so far and have been put up for open auction inthe last 10 days, 300 tonnes lies unsold, the sources said.

Onions imported from Pakistan by the government werehanded over to agri-cooperative Nafed upon arrival in thenational capital from the Mundra port in Gujarat via road.

State-run PEC and STC had contracted about 1,000 tonnesof onions from Pakistan in the first week of January to boostthe supply of the vegetable in the national capital, whereretail rates had peaked at Rs 70-85 per kg in the last week ofDecember.

Following the ban imposed by the Pakistani government ononion exports to India across the Wagah border in the firstweek of January -- after the cost of the vegetable soared inthat country -- onions were transported to Indian ports bysea, from where they were brought to Delhi by road.

About 800 tonnes out of the total imports of 1,000 tonnesof Pakistani onions have arrived in the national capital sofar, Nafed sources said, adding that the rest will arrivesoon.

While the bulk of the onions from the neighbouringcountry were given to cooperatives like Nafed, NCCF andKendriya Bhandar for selling at a subsidised rate in Delhi,the remaining stock is being put up for open auction.

National Consumers Cooperative Federation Chairman (NCCF)Chairman Virendra Singh told PTI that the agency has incurredlosses on the Pakistani onions and has now stopped procuringthem.

"NCCF procured around 80 quintals of Pakistani-breedonions for subsidised sale to consumers in Delhi, whichattracted little response... Considering losses, we havestopped procuring these onions now," Singh told PTI.

He said Mother Dairy (which is running about 300 outletsin Delhi) has also refused to take consignments of onions fromPakistan.

While the central government is providing a 30 per centsubsidy on procurement of native onions, no similar facilityis available for the Pakistani variety of the vegetable, Singhsaid. .

"We had to sell it through 18 outlets of NCCF and Kendriya Bhandar, which attracted few customers," he said.

Sources in PEC said the imported onions from Pakistan,which were contracted at a rate of around USD 658 (about Rs30,268) per tonne, has resulted in a loss for the agency.

Rajendra Sharma, the General Secretary of the OnionMerchants Association at Azadpur Mandi -- Asia''s biggestwholesale fruit

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