Govt allows export of extra 10,000 tonnes onion to UAE

The government has allowed the export of an additional 10,000 tonnes of onion to the UAE through the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL), beyond the 14,400 tonnes permitted on March 1. As much as 79,150 tonnes of onions have been approved for export since the ban on shipments was announced on December 8, 2023.

The government had justified the export ban during FY2023-24 citing the global supply scenario and the dry spell underEl Niño, which reduced onion output in India. Before the ban, the government had first levied 40 per cent export duty on onion in August 2023 and then introduced a minimum export price (MEP) in October to ensure domestic availability.

It has since allowed export of 550 tonnes to Bhutan, 3,000 tonnes to Bahrain, 1,200 tonnes to Mauritius, 50,000 tonnes to Bangladesh, and 24,400 tonnes to the UAE.

Also read: Centre to buy five lakh tonnes onion directly from farmers from April 1 at market rates

Time-bound or not?

Traders, meanwhile, pointed out that while there was a ceiling of 3,600 tonnes of onion exports per quarter to UAE in the March 1 notification, the April 2 notification has no such stipulation, leaving it unclear whether the additional 10,000 tonnes can be exported anytime beyond the quarter.

Recently, the Centre announced it would buy 5 lakh tonnes (lt) of onion directly from farmers to cushion the export ban.

Rabi onion production is set to dip 18 per cent to 193 lt in 2023-24 (July-June) from 236 lt a year ago. Rabi onion contributes 72-75 per cent of the country’s annual production, making it crucial for year-round availability, especially since it has better shelf-life compared to kharif onion and can be stored until December.