Centre sets MEP for onions, retail prices to stabilise

By Times Of India on 24 Nov 2017
NASHIK: The Union government on Thursday set the minimum export price (MEP) for onions at US$850 per tonne after having no MEP on the bulb for two years.

The move is an attempt by the Centre to curb the export of onions, which will ensure greater supply in the domestic markets and help stabilise prices. Of late, the average onion prices have been rising steadily in the wholesale markets. Onions presently cost around Rs 60 per kg in retail markets across the country.

In its November 20 meeting, the Union ministry of commerce discussed the rising onion prices in the country and decided to set an MEP. Accordingly, the director general of foreign trade of the ministry issued a notification in this connection. TOI is in possession of a copy of the notification.

In December 2015, the Union government had reduced the MEP from US$750 per tonne to zero. This led to a rise in onion exports during fiscal 2016-17.

The average wholesale onion prices have increased thrice in the past two months from Rs 1,250 per quintal on September 19 to Rs 3,200 per quintal on November 23 due to short supply. The retail prices of good quality onions in Nashik have touched Rs 50 per kg, while the retail prices in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi have reached up to Rs 60 per kg.

"The Union government is taking various measures to stabilise rising onion prices in the domestic markets, one of which is setting an MEP. The government is also importing onions through the Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation, which is in the process of floating a tender," said government sources.

The average onion prices at the country's largest wholesale market, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), had recorded an all-time high of Rs 5,700 per quintal on August 22, 2015 due to scarcity of the bulb. Following this, the retail onion prices had touched Rs 100 per kg in Delhi and Mumbai and Rs 80 per kg in Nashik's retail market in the last week of August that year. The Centre had then increased the MEP of onions to US$700 per tonne from US$250 per tonne in April that year to curb onion exports.

However, after the price trend reversed, the average wholesale onion prices had dropped by almost 80% to Rs 1,150 per quintal by November-end of 2015 due to rise in supply. The next month, the Centre implemented zero MEP on onions.

Meanwhile, the average wholesale onion prices at Lasalgaon were recorded at Rs 3,200 per quintal on Thursday. The minimum and maximum wholesale prices were recorded at Rs 1,700 and Rs 3,855 per quintal. Around 10,000 quintals of onions were auctioned at Lasalgaon on Thursday.

Timeline (MEP of onions/per tonne since Dec 2013)

Dec 16, 2013 - Down to US$1,150 from US$800

Dec 19, 2013 - Down to US$350 from US$800

Dec 26, 2013 - Down to US$150 from US$350

March 4, 2014 - Zero MEP

June 17, 2014 - MEP set at US$300

July 2, 2014 - MEP hiked to US$500

Aug 21, 2014 - MEP reduced to US$300

April 8, 2015 - MEP reduced to US$250

June 26, 2015 - MEP increased to US$425

Aug 24, 2015 - MEP increased to US$700

Dec 11, 2015 - MEP reduced to US$400

Dec 24, 2015 - Zero MEP

Nov 23, 2017 - MEP increased to US$850