Almost a month after the Centre lifted the ban on onion exports, India has managed to export 40,000-50,000 tonne till date because of a lukewarm response from the international market, according to senior industry people.
India exported onions valued at $198 million in the April-June period of FY21 and $440 million through 2019-20. The country had exported around 10 lakh tonne in 2019-20. Bangladesh, Malaysia, the UAE and Sri Lanka are the top importers of Indian onions. The ban on onion export, imposed on September 14, was lifted on January 1.
Ajit Shah, president, Horticulture Produce Exporters Association, said demand is picking up slowly. “Onions from Pakistan are currently being sold at $275 per tonne (freight on board) while Indian onions are costlier at $450 per tonne (FOB). Therefore, there is not much movement happening,” he said. “Other countries are still in the process of completing consignments from Pakistan and other exporting nations such as Turkey and Egypt. Once these are completed, they should turn towards India. We expect exports to pick up in the next 15-20 days.”
Shah had earlier said India can export some 20 lakh tonne this season after the arrival of the new crop.
On Wednesday, wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon averaged at Rs 2,500 per quintal, with the maximum price being Rs 3,099 per quintal and the minimum at Rs 900 per quintal. Total arrivals were in the range of 24,624 quintal on Monday.
Manoj Jain, an onion trader in Lasalgaon, said although exports have begun, it is yet to pick up. Traders are currently focused on the domestic market because prices are better and there is no parity in the international market. Onion shipments have been sent to Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Colombo and the Philippines, but actual figures are yet to come in, he said.
National Horticulture Research Development Foundation’s acting director PK Gupta said onions have begun to arrive faster now with a good late kharif crop aiding arrivals. The crop is good and the climate is also helping growth, and therefore exports should also be good in the long term, he said.
The country consumes some 180 lakh tonne annually. The total production was some 260 lakh tonne in the last season of 2019-20. So, there is scope for good export, he said.