Indian government permits onion exports to six nations, including Sri Lanka

Big Onions

The Indian Government announced on Saturday that it has granted permission for the export of 99,500 tonnes of onions to six neighboring countries, despite the existing ban on shipments.

These onions, primarily sourced from Maharashtra, will be exported to Bangladesh, UAE, Bhutan, Bahrain, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka.

Additionally, the government has permitted the export of 2,000 tonnes of white onions, specially cultivated for markets in the Middle East and some European countries.

The ban on onion exports was initially imposed on December 8, 2023, aiming to ensure sufficient availability domestically due to anticipated lower Kharif and Rabi crops in 2023-24 compared to the previous year. This measure was taken amidst a surge in demand in the international market.

According to an official statement from India’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, the National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL), designated for onion exports, has procured the onions through e-platform at competitive prices. These onions are being supplied to the respective destination countries at negotiated rates, with payment required in full in advance.

The allocated export quota for the six countries is being fulfilled based on their requisitions. Maharashtra, as the leading onion producer in the country, plays a significant role in the onion supply for export.

In addition to regular onions, the government has allowed the export of 2,000 tonnes of white onions. These onions, cultivated specifically for export markets, incur higher production costs due to factors like expensive seeds, adherence to good agricultural practices, and compliance with strict maximum residue limits requirements.

To stabilize onion prices domestically, the Indian Department of Consumer Affairs has set a procurement target of 5 lakh tonnes from the Rabi crop of 2024 under the Price Stabilisation Fund. Central agencies are collaborating with local agencies to facilitate procurement, storage, and farmer registration.

Efforts to reduce onion storage losses include plans to increase the quantity of onions to be irradiated and cold-stored from 1,200 tonnes last year to over 5,000 tonnes this year. Technical support from BARC, Mumbai, will aid in this endeavor.

Recent data released by the Union Agriculture Ministry indicates a decrease in onion production for 2023-24 compared to the previous year. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan have experienced notable declines in output, contributing to this decrease.