CHANDIGARH: There is good news coming from across the borders for the kitchen staple, as the first two truckloads of onions from Afghanistan arrived at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) of Attari border late on Tuesday night and were cleared on Wednesday. It is expected that in the coming days, prices may fall as more trucks are likely to arrive.
Sources said that the two truckloads each carrying 30 metric tonnes (600 bags of 50 kg on each truck) arrived from the wholesale market of Kabul at the ICP of Attari via Pakistan and were cleared by customs.
Talking to this correspondent, former Chairman of CII (Amritsar Zone) Rajdeep Uppal said, "As onion consignments have arrived from Afghanistan and in the coming days, we expect more such consignments to come, the prices of this kitchen staple will further drop. Onions there are cheaper than in India."
"As trade with Afghanistan has been going on for many decades and there is no customs duty, we have to pay for transportation, loading, unloading and other charges," said a trader who had booked a consignment of onions which arrived on Wednesday.
It is learnt that traders in India book their onion consignments with traders based in Afghanistan and it takes about a week for the consignment to arrive. At times the payment is made in advance and at times it is on credit depending on the relationship between the traders.
Last year, five trucks of onions came from Afghanistan every day for a week. But in 2017, for about two months, around 25 truckloads came to Attari daily with about 1000 tonnes and helped in curbing the rising prices of the commodity in the domestic market.
The Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) has already floated a tender for import of onions from China, Afghanistan and Egypt.
Another trader said that the two consignments which have come today are most likely to be consumed in Punjab itself. Besides Afghanistan, stocks of onions are also expected from Egypt and are likely to arrive by October 15.
"Wholesale prices have come down from Rs 50 to Rs 40 but the retail prices are still up as they are between Rs 60 and 70. The reason is due to heavy rains in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and southern states, the onion crop got delayed and it will take about a month for the prices to stabilize and come
down as the new crop is expected after Diwali,’’ said Om Parkash, a leading vegetable trader in Amritsar.
A trader on condition of anonymity said that the hoarding of onions is causing the problem and the government should take steps to check it. The government had already warned that it will take strict action if any trader is found hoarding the crop.