The government on 23 November 2017 imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of $850 per tonne on onion to increase domestic supplies and check rising prices. MEP is the minimum rate below which exports are not allowed. Export of all varieties of onions will be allowed only on LC, it added. Concerned over the rise in onion prices, Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan in August had sought that MEP be imposed on its exports by the commerce ministry. He also sought the removal of sops on export of the kitchen staple.
Retail onion prices, which have shot up to Rs. 50-65 per kg in most cities, have come under pressure due to tight domestic supplies. The government has asked state-run MMTC to import 2,000 tonnes of onion, while other agencies Nafed and SFAC to buy onions locally and supply in consuming areas. Supplies got exhausted as large quantity of exports were undertaken in the first four months of the current fiscal.
About 40 per cent of the country’s total onion crop is produced in the kharif season, and the rest during the rabi season. The kharif crop, however, cannot be stored. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat are the major onion producing states.