Govt hikes onion MEP for Sept again by $75/tonne

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Barely less than two weeks since the minimum export price (MEP) of onion was revised upward, the government further hiked the price for exporting the commodity by USD 75 to USD 350 a tonne for the current-month to boost domestic availability and curb price rise. Early this month, the government had raised onion MEP for September by USD 55 to USD 275 a tonne from the last month.

"As prices of onion in the wholesale markets are rising, it was decided to further hike the export price of the commodity to ensure domestic supply increases and prices come down," a senior Agriculture Ministry official, who looks into horticultural crops, told PTI. The wholesale prices at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra, which is Asia''s biggest onion market, have risen sharply by 48 per cent in just one month. Onion prices have gone up to Rs 1,373 per quintal today from Rs 925 per quintal the same period last month, according to the official data.

The current demand is being fulfilled with onion stock stored in the cold chains. As a result, prices have hardened because fresh crop is expected to arrive only after November, the official said, adding that the priority is to ensure enough supply in the domestic market.

In Maharashtra, about 13-14 lakhs tonnes of onions are stored in cold chains, of which 40-50 per cent of the stock is sold and the rest will be available till October-end, according to the National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation. An onion trader said that higher MEP would further slow down onion exports, which have declined for the fifth consecutive month in August.

The country''s onion exports fell by 53 per cent to 87,428 tonnes in August, from 1,86,144 tonnes in the same period last year, according to onion export regulator Nafed. Agri-cooperative major Nafed, along with 13 other agencies involved in onion export, regulates exports by fixing the MEP every month.

No export can take place below the MEP and all contracts are registered with the Nafed.

Source: Business Line

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