Afghanistan comes to the rescue of onion price hike in India

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Onion imports from Afghanistan across the Attari border has brought some kind of relief from the prices seen over the past few weeks. Retail prices of the tuber have reduced and stabilised at Rs 100-110 per kilogram in the northern states as the fresh harvest from Alwar in Rajasthan and consignments from across the border have boosted supply in the region.

Around 50 trucks full of onion crossed over to India across the Attari check post and 55 trucks had brought the tuber recently. “Onion is topping the imports currently and the consignments are coming from Afghanistan,” Sukdev Singh, manager Integrated Check Post, Attari said in a statement.

Driven by the high domestic prices of onion, the staple widely used in Indian kitchens, traders in Afghanistan are importing onion from Iran and Uzbekistan via Attari. “Around 1500-2000 tonnes of onion is being imported along the international border. The spurt in international supply has cooled down wholesale prices of the onion by 20-30%, said, traders.”

“Onion from Afghanistan is being supplied to various states, including in south like Karnataka,” said Gaurav Behal of Amritsar-based vegetable trading company Behal International. The landed cost of onion from Afghanistan is Rs 40-55 per kg while the local crop is priced at Rs 65- 75 per kg and retail prices are hovering over Rs 100 per kg. “Prices are expected to mellow down by next week as the domestic harvest from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh commences,” said Akshay Kumar of Ludhiana-based Super Onion Company.

Kumar said that though importing onion from Afghanistan has helped stabilise prices, the crop from the neighbouring country has limited appeal for the average customer because of its bigger size. “Usually retail buyers purchase a few kilos and due to the bigger size (of onions from Afghanistan) just a few pieces weigh over one kg. So it is not conducive for a household,” he said.