21 October 1998
India forced to import onions

INDIA, which usually exports up to 10% of the onions it produces, this year is looking to import large quantities to stop prices going sky-high, reports the Financial Times.

Management problems combined with a poor crop have sent prices rising from Rs6/kg (8p/kg) in the first week of June to about Rs50. Officials say prices could reach Rs70 (£1).

The federal Government has asked the National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) to import 13,000 tonnes.

The federal Government has put no restrictions on imports. It has also waived the 15% import duty.

Exporters are asking the Government to lift bans on exporting special varieties of onions, for which there is little domestic demand.

The world trade in onions is now 4 million tonnes and India is the largest exporter after the Netherlands and Spain. India grows onions on 384,600ha (950,333 acres) or 7.5% of the total area of vegetable cultivation. There is scope for sizeable increases in yields by using better varieties.