The Indian government has asked Bangladesh to procure the onions that India has imported after a majority of states withdrew their demand for the commodity, ThePrint has learnt.
At a meeting held Monday, the union ministry of commerce and industry made an offer to acting Bangladesh high commissioner Rokebul Haque to buy the onion stock that India had imported for domestic consumption, said a senior government official familiar with the matter.
As of 12 January, 18,000 metric tonnes of imported onions had arrived in India out of a total contract of 36,000 metric tonnes, said the official.
‘Out of the amount of arrived onions, the state governments have only procured around 3,000 metric tonnes 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Maharashtra, Assam, Haryana, Karnataka and Odisha have withdrawn their demand of 10,000 metric tonnes, 3,000 metric tonnes, 3,480 metric tonnes, 250 metric tonnes and 100 metric tonnes of imported onion, respectively, consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan confirmed earlier this month.
The states had asked for imported onions to deflate the soaring prices — over Rs 100 per kg in November-December — of the commodity, but backed out citing high prices and difference in taste.
This has sparked concern that if states do not lift the imported onions, the commodity will perish. Onion is a highly perishable item which gets depreciated due to rotting and sprouting by 35 per cent in a week.
The official added that while India imported most of the stock at around $600-700 per metric tonnes, the Modi government is offering it to Bangladesh at $550-$580 per metric tonnes.
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.
The development has come nearly three months after Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina publicly aired her displeasure about the Modi government’s move to stop export of onions 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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