Govt further extends relaxed fumigation norms on imported onions till January
New Delhi: The Agriculture Ministry on Friday further extended relaxed fumigation norms for imported onions till January 31 in a bid to improve domestic supply and check prices that are ruling above Rs 100 per kg in many cities.
The second extension has been given as most of the onion shipments are expected to arrive by next month.
Currently, state-run MMTC is importing onion on the behalf of the government which has decided to buy 1.2 lakh tonnes from the overseas market to increase domestic supplies. The government is also facilitating private imports as well.
MMTC has contracted to import about 30,000 tonnes of onions so far. Of this, 12,660 tonnes will reach India from December 27 onwards. The agency has been asked to issue fresh tenders for additional 15,000 tonnes of onions.
"The competent authority has nded the relaxation of additional inspection fee on fumigation treatment conditions and endorsement of additional declaration in phytosanitary certificate for import of onions till January 31, 2020," the ministry said in its latest order.
On November 6, the ministry had liberalised fumigation provisions and additional inspection fee under the Plant Quarantine (PQ) Order, 2003 till November 30 and it was later extended till December 31.
Onion prices have risen by 81 per cent in the last one month and are ruling above the Rs 100 per kg mark for the second week in a row, as government efforts to cool the rates seem to be taking more time than expected.
Onion prices have skyrocketed as domestic production in Kharif and late-kharif seasons (summer-sown) is estimated to have declined by 22 per cent.
The government has been maintaining that it has taken all possible steps to rein in prices such as allowing imports, imposing a ban on exports and putting restrictions on quantities of onions to be stocked by retailers and wholesalers.
Under the relaxed fumigation norms, traders who have imported onions without fumigation or having the endorsement of such treatment on phytosanitary certificate (PSC) will be allowed to fumigate in India through an accredited treatment provider.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the Central government is closely monitoring onion prices which have exponentially shot up
According to the minister, the situation is gradually improving with increased shipments of onions coming into the country.
Replying to a query on the rising onion prices, the minister replied: "Onion prices have started to fall in some places from their peak levels, although they have not declined as per requirement." PTI