NEW DELHI: Amid an acute shortage of onion supplies and soaring retail prices, the government has decided to import onions from Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan. This was decided during a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee on Tuesday to review the prices and availability of onions in the domestic markets.
After the meeting, the Consumer Affair Ministry said that the government will act as a facilitator for onion imports and ease the process to ensure a quick supply from other countries.
It was decided that the Union Government will act as a facilitator for the import of onions, the Consumer Affairs Ministry said.
The Ministry further said that the phytosanitary and fumigation norms for procuring onions will be suitably liberalised to facilitate its imports.
Accordingly, the Indian Missions in Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran have been directed to facilitate the supply of onions to India. They have been asked to facilitate immediate import of 80 containers and diversion of 100 containers in the high seas to India.
The government's move to import onions from other countries points to its acute shortage in the domestic market from Maharashtra and other states.
The government has been reviewing prices of essential commodities like onions in the festival season and with the Delhi political scene heating up due to the forthcoming elections, high onion prices are known to be giant killers in elections.
The government has directed National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) to supply the maximum possible quantities to the Delhi government, Mother Dairy and Safal for retailing.
A team led by Additional MD, NAFED has been asked to Nashik and take stock of the situation and facilitate the movement of supplies from Maharashtra to consuming regions including Delhi and adjoining areas.
Two Inter-Ministerial teams are likely to be dispatched on Wednesday and Thursday to Karnataka and Rajasthan to take stock of the onion supplies and encourage the supplies to high consuming regions, including Delhi-NCR.
The Rajasthan government has already assured quick movement of onions posts harvesting to augment supplies.
Meanwhile, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government has also been advised to depute officials to the inter-ministerial team going to Karnataka and Rajasthan.
The Delhi government has been advised to hold meetings with traders and encourage them to pick up available supplies in the region and take strict action against hoarders and black marketeers.