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Modi government wants Bangladesh to buy imported onions after states withdraw the demand

Modi government wants Bangladesh to buy imported onions after states withdraw the demand

Until last week, 18,000 MT of imported onion had arrived but states have only bought 3,000 MT. Modi govt is offering Bangladesh a lower price to buy stock.

The Narendra Modi government has asked Bangladesh to procure the onions that India has imported as most states have withdrawn their demand for the commodity.

In a meeting held on Monday, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry made a proposal to Bangladesh High Commissioner Rokebul Haque to act that India had purchased the imported onion stock for domestic consumption, said a senior government official familiar with the matter.

As of 12 January, 18,000 metric tonnes (MT) of imported onions had arrived in India out of a total contract of 36,000 MT, said the official who didn’t wish to be named.

“Out of the amount of arrived onions, the state governments have only procured around 3,000 MT while the rest of the stock is waiting at Mumbai JNPT port,” the official added.

Maharashtra, Assam, Haryana, Karnataka, and Odisha have withdrawn their demand of 10,000 MT, 3,000 MT, 3,480 MT, 250 MT and 100 MT of imported onion, respectively, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan confirmed earlier this month.

States had asked for imported onions to reduce rising prices— over Rs 100 per kg in November-December — of the commodity, but backed out citing high prices and a difference in taste.

It has raised concerns that if states do not pick up imported onions, the commodity will deteriorate. Onion is a highly perishable item that rotates up to 35 percent in a week due to rotting and sprouting.
The official added that while India imported most of the stock at around $600-700 per MT, the Modi government is offering it to Bangladesh at $550-$580 per MT.

However, Bangladesh argued during the meeting that it already has imports of Chinese onion in the pipeline through Nepal, so India should offer some incentives like free transportation, added the official.

‘We are neighbours’

The development comes almost three months after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina publicly aired her displeasure about the Modi government's move to curb onion exports to her country during her four-day visit to India.

“I wish you had informed us before suddenly putting a halt in the export of onions. I had to tell my cook I have no other option but to have my food without onions. I would request India to please inform us beforehand while taking such an action. After all, we are neighbours,” she had said.

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