In an apparent effort to control the rising onion prices, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Sunday banned the export of onions with "immediate effect" until further orders. "Export policy of onion for the item description at Serial Number 51 & 52 of Chapter 7 of Schedule 2 of ITC (HS) classification of Export & Import Items is amended from free to prohibited till further orders," the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said in a statement.
The onion prices have surged over 300% in the last few weeks due to a shortfall in supply following heavy rainfall in Maharashtra and Karnataka - the two main onion-producing states in the country. Last week, onion was selling for around Rs 70-80 per kg in retail market in the national capital Delhi and several other parts of the country. The Consumer Affairs Ministry data showed that onion price was hovering at around Rs 60/kg in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow last week.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday announced that his government will provide onions at Rs 23.90/kg in the national capital. On September 26, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had urged the state governments to buy onions from Centre to keep the prices under check. "To augment onion supplies to the markets, a team of two joint secretary-level officers have been sent to Maharashtra to talk to the farmers, traders and transporters to assess the availability of onions and to persuade them to bring more onions to the market," Paswan had tweeted.
Paswan had also issued a stern warning to hoarders and black marketers against stocking onions. "I want to inform hoarders that we have a buffer stock of 50,000 tonne. Affected states can boost their supply through agencies like Nafed and National Cooperative Consumers," Paswan said.