NEW DELHI: Concerned over the steep rise in onion prices, the Central government on Sunday banned the export of onions and imposed a stock limit on traders to improve domestic availability of the commodity and provide relief to consumers.
“Export of all varieties of onions ... is prohibited with immediate effect,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an arm of the commerce ministry, said in a notification issued on Sunday.
The reported export below Minimum Export Price (MEP) to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be stopped immediately and strict action will be taken against violators, it added.
The DGFT on September 13 had imposed an MEP of $850 per tonne to curb its shipments and help bring down rising domestic prices. However, the move was not effective. “Though there was some reduction in export of onions thereafter, exports were still continuing. The ban on the export of onions is expected to improve domestic availability and cool down prices,” the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said.
To prevent hoarding of the onion stock, the government has also imposed restrictions on retailers. Retailers can now stock up only up to 100 quintals of onions and wholesale traders are allowed to keep up to 500 quintals of the kitchen staple.
“In view of the sustained high price of onion in the market, the Central government today took several steps to contain its prices, namely imposition of a stock limit on traders and ban on exports, and state governments will take strict measures to prevent hoarding,” the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said in its statement. The ministry added that state governments have been told to take stringent steps to prevent hoarding.
The move comes amid a sharp increase in retail prices of onions since August, despite several measures taken by the Central government to boost supply and contain price rise. Currently, retail onion prices hover at around `60-80 per kg in the national capital and some other parts of the country, due to supply disruption from flood-affected growing states like Maharasthra and Karnataka.
Meanwhile, to give relief to consumers from high prices, the Central government is offloading 50,000 tonnes of buffer stock of onions across the country. State-run Mother Dairy and cooperatives NAFED and NCCF are selling buffer stock at Rs 23.90 per kg in Delhi.