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Govt Allows Export of 99,150 MT of Onions to Neighbouring Countries Amidst Domestic Supply Concerns

New Delhi: The Government has permitted the export of 99,150 metric tons (MT) of onions to six neighbouring countries, namely Bangladesh, UAE, Bhutan, Bahrain, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka. This decision comes amidst concerns over lower crop yields in the 2023-24 Kharif and Rabi seasons compared to previous years, coupled with increased demand in the global market.

The National Cooperative Exports Limited (NCEL), designated as the export agency for these countries, has procured onions from domestic sources through an e-platform at competitive prices. These onions are then supplied to agencies nominated by the destination countries at negotiated rates, with payment required in advance. Maharashtra, being the largest onion producer in the country, is the primary supplier of onions sourced by NCEL for export.

Additionally, the Government has authorized the export of 2000 MT of white onions specifically cultivated for export markets in the Middle East and certain European countries. The production cost of white onions, tailored for export, is higher due to increased seed cost, adherence to good agricultural practices (GAP), and compliance with strict maximum residue limits (MRL) requirements.

To bolster domestic reserves, the procurement target for the onion buffer under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) for the Rabi-2024 season has been set at 5 lakh tons. Central agencies such as the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) are collaborating with local agencies like Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs), and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACs) to facilitate procurement, storage, and farmer registration.

Efforts to minimize storage losses include increasing the quantum of onions to be irradiated and cold stored from 1200 MT last year to over 5000 MT this year, with technical assistance from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai. A pilot project on onion irradiation and cold storage initiated last year has demonstrated a reduction in storage losses to less than 10 percent.

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