India releases onions to stop Pak, China from filling void

30K quintals of onion sent to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal

India releases onions to stop Pak, China from filling void

Photo for representational purpose only.

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19

The government released onion consignments to three neighbouring countries after prices there hit the roof due to India’s abrupt decision to ban exports on September 14, said sources.

It was important to release about 30,000 tonnes of onions, whose letters of credit (LCs) had been opened to ameliorate public inconvenience caused in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

The release would also keep at bay Pakistan, Turkey and China who could have immediately filled the void. India does not enjoy good diplomatic ties with these countries and would prefer other regional players like Thailand, Egypt, Uzbekistan or Afghanistan to step in.

Anticipating a rise in prices domestically, the government had banned onion exports except for cut, sliced and powdered due to excessive rainfall hitting its crop in some southern states.

As a result, prices have trebled in Bhutan and shown a steady rising trend that threatens to worsen in Bangladesh and Nepal. Sources said a multi-ministry effort supervised by the Ministry of External Affairs led to the release and transportation of onion consignments that were deemed to have been sold with the opening of LCs.

India has emerged as an unreliable exporter for the second year running. It had banned onion exports last year as well, impacting neighbours like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh that are near-totally dependent on Indian onions.

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