MUMBAI: Traders said 84 tonne onions from Egypt landed at the JNPT and the consignment was likely to hit the markets soon.
“The onions are bigger in size and deep red in colour,” said Ashok Walunj, director, Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee, Vashi.
The imported onions would be priced around Rs 50 a kg, while the domestically produced variety is priced around Rs 60.
To check soaring prices of onion, the government today increased its minimum export price (MEP) sharply by $275 per tonne, taking it up to $700 per tonne. It also floated a tender for import of 10,000 tonne onions, which will be opened on August 27.
The decision to increase onion MEP (the rate below which no exports are allowed) is aimed at discouraging exports and increasing its domestic availability after its prices shot in both wholesale and retail markets due to unseasonal rains recently.
The wholesale onion prices today touched Rs 57 a kg mark at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra — Asia’s biggest edible bulb market — on account of low arrivals and traders holding back stocks in anticipation of a further spike. In retail markets, onion is currently being sold for Rs 70-80 per kg.
The shortfall is primarily on account of adverse weather conditions, including unseasonal rains, which affected standing and harvested crop at major producing centres. While early and late kharif varieties contribute 20 per cent each, the remaining 60 per cent of the annual onion output is by rabi.
India’s total annual output is estimated around 190 lakh tonne. The government says the increase in prices is due to decline in total onion production from 194.02 lakh tonne in 2013-14 to 189.23 lakh tonne in 2014-15, a dip of 4.79 lakh tonne. Onion exports fell to 10.86 lakh tonne in 2014-15 from 13.58 lakh tonne in the previous year.
So far, only three states, that too mostly non-producers, have notified stock limits for onion. Officials say traders in key onion-producing states — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan — face no such restriction on stocking.
“On July 1, the Centre had made an amendment in the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, enabling states to impose stock limits on onions for a further period of one year till July 2, 2016,” an official said.