The agriculture ministry has removed the requirement of mandatory fumigation for imported onion to boost supply of the commodity and keep its price from spiralling.
According to an earlier official statement, consignments of imported onions arriving at Indian ports without fumigation were required to be fumigated by the importer through an accredited agency.
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Sources told FE the removal of this requirement would reduce the time taken for imports of onion into the country. The government has already approved imports of about 3 lakh tonne in the next few weeks. However, the imported consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India, the official statement said.
A commerce ministry official said mandatory fumigation is an India-specific requirement against pest control which many onion producing countries do not follow. “Indian importers have already contracted to import onion mostly from Egypt, China and Afghanistan, which will arrive in ports in the next one month,” the official said.
The government decided to import a small amount of onion because of delay in rain in key growing areas of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Late monsoon means kharif arrivals would be delayed by a month, pushing up prices in the late September and October. “Besides, onion supply is likely to be hit in a few weeks as a portion of the summer crop was hit by hail in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in March, thus impacting quality,” an agriculture ministry official said.
“We want to avoid spike in prices in September- October by easing imports,” the commerce ministry official said.