Facing flak from farmers, the Central government on Tuesday allowed export of onions, 11 days after it was banned to tame soaring prices of the staple item.
“We took a decision to revoke the ban on exports of onion,” food minister KV Thomas told reporters here after a meeting of the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The minimum export price (MEP) of onion has been fixed at $ 475 (about R22,800) a tonne to discourage exports.
“The MEP will be reviewed every fortnight,” commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said.
The government had imposed a ban on onion exports on September 9 to check its spiralling prices, which touched R25 a kg in retail in the national capital.
India’s food inflation has remained at high levels—it was 9.47% for the week ended September 3—fuelled by a sharp spike in prices of onions and potatoes. Wholesale prices of onion has grown by over 40% during the last few weeks and the ban on exports had helped pull down retail onion prices by R2 to R5 a kg.
The decision to ban exports, however, triggered howls of protest from farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Maharashtra NCP chief Madhukar Pichad had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, seeking withdrawal of the ban on onion exports.
A delegation from Maharashtra led by state agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil too last week met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, demanding removal of the ban.