Afghan onions sourced to ward off crisis left to rot

With new crop landing in the market in January and prices cooling down, imported onions turned costlier, states have refused to purchase the stock.

Published: 24th February 2020 09:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th February 2020 09:32 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Nearly 36,000 metric tonnes of onions imported from Afghanistan at the height of a crisis fuelled by its zooming prices last December, are now rotting in the Centre’s godown’s across the country, with states unwilling to buy them. While onion prices had started skyrocketting in October, settling at between `120-`150 a kg, across India, the Centre ordered imports only in December, which cost it `50-`60 per kg. 

With new crop landing in the market in January and prices cooling down, imported onions turned costlier, states have refused to purchase the stock. Unable to find buyers, government agency NAFED started disposing the stocks in the Mandis and managed to offload 40% at less than `15. The loss to the Centre has, however, been huge, admit officials.

The crisis had been sparked by unseasonal rains in onion producing states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana among others, leading to a spike in  prices. By December, the price of the politically sensitive bulb shot up to `150 or more. Aiming to contain the crisis, government cleared MMTC imports of 41,950 metric tonnes against which 36,124 MT was received by January. 

However, by February, just 2501 MT were lifted by states and UT’s as local supplies improved and prices crashed steeply. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Meghalaya and Jammu & Kashmir refused to buy ordered stocks, even as states like Haryana and Assam, refused to lift their allottments. Noticing that onion is perishable beyond two-three months, the Centre directed MMTC and NAFED to dispose of imported onions at the prevailing market/ mandi/ online portal rates, to avoid wastage or rotting. According to Consumer affairs ministry officials, Assam did not accept the consignments and the 296 MT stock had to be sold locally. 

Total quantity supplied and accepted by states: 2501 MT

Total disposal by NAFED (including states and open market): Nearly17,000 MT   

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp