In a cautious move against possible hike in onion prices in the festive season, the government today relaxed norms for import of the kitchen staple till November to boost domestic supply and check rates.
As per official data, onion prices are at present stable in the range of Rs 20-30 kg in most places. Onion is availabe at Rs 30 per kg in Delhi, Rs 32 per kg in Mumbai and Rs 25 per kg in Chennai and Kolkata.
"Ministry of Agriculture has decided, in light of public concern over high prices of onion in the market, to allow derogation from the conditions of fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for onion imports up to 30th November, 2014 on the following conditions," an official stastement said.
The government has allowed fumigation of consignments of imported onions after arrival at Indian port through an accredited agency and has also waived off the four times penal fees on account of non-compliance of the fumigation norms.
"The consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India.
An Agriculure Ministry official said that the import norms for onion have been relaxed to facilitate smooth shipment of the commodity during the period of supply crunch.
Last month, the government had reduced the minimum export price of onion to USD 300 per tonne in view of softening of prices and increased availability of the vegetable in the domestic market.
Onion production is estimated to have risen to 192 lakh tonnes (LT) during 2013-14 crop year (July-June), from 168 LT in 2012-13. Exports meanwhile fell to 13.58 LT last fiscal from 18.22 LT in 2012-13.
The domestic demand during the lean period from June to November is met through stored rabi (winter) and fresh kharif (summer) produce.