West Bengal to import 800 tonnes of onions from Egypt as prices soar

There is a lag of at least five-seven days before Nasik onions can be sold in the city's wholesale markets.

The West Bengal government has placed an order for 800 tonne of imported onions with the NAFED for delivery by December-end to support the supply of the staple at a fair price, an official said on Wednesday.

The state government placed the order at a landed cost of Rs 55/kg at Mumbai port with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), which has been tasked to distribute the vegetable.

"We have placed orders for 200 tonne per week, totalling 800 tonne for delivery within December. The landed cost of onion at Mumbai port is Rs 55 per kg and in Kolkata it will be at least Rs 65 a kg, taking freight into account," a senior state government official told PTI.

The onions are being imported from Egypt. Following reports that wholesale prices of top grade onion jumped to Rs 5,400 per 40 kg bag at Nasik, a week-old onion stock at the city's Posta wholesale market rose to Rs 125 a kg on Wednesday, sources told PTI.

This indicates that best quality onions in the retail market is inching closer to the Rs 150 per kg-mark.

Though state agencies are keeping a close watch on the wholesale markets, they do not propose to put a cap on the price, at least for now, as officials fear it will worsen availability.

If NAFED is successful in delivering the onions in time, the state government has a proposal to distribute these through fair price shops, a source said.

There is a lag of at least five-seven days before Nasik onions can be sold in the city's wholesale markets. Freight accounts for Rs 5 a kg from Nasik to Kolkata.

State officials blamed the Centre for the crisis.

"The intervention by the Centre is late. The import order should have been placed at least a month back to avert such massive price rise," an official said.

"If we were allowed, we could have imported onions from Sri Lanka long ago at a much cheaper landed rate of Rs 55 per kg in Kolkata," he said.

The state government is selling onions at a subsidised rate of Rs 59 per kg through its 'Sufala' stores and mobile vans, as against a procurement cost of Rs 88 a kg.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel