Onion from Pakistan, contracted by state owned agencies, will arrive in New Delhi by January 7, a move expected to further ease prices which had shot up to Rs 70-80 per kg last month. The first lot of imports contracted by PEC and the State Trading Corporation "is scheduled to reach Delhi by the end of next week," an official source said.
PEC and STC are trying to bring at least 1,000 tonnes of onion from Pakistan, sources said adding that its landed cost would be about Rs 30 per kg. The supply would reach in two or three lots. Apart from these two trading firms, private traders are also importing onions from Pakistan.
Onion prices had surged to Rs 70-85 per kg on December 20-21 because of damage to crops in Maharashtra, a major producer, due to rains.
Speculators were also suspected to be pushing the prices. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who had asked STC and PEC to go in for short-term import contracts, hoped prices would soften further. S
harma has also spoken to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to ensure immediate distribution of imported onion through outlets like Mother Dairy, the sources said. Prices of onion which have a lot of political impact, have eased to Rs 40-50 a kg in the retail market, though they are still high for the common man.
The government has taken several steps to rein in prices of the kitchen staple. These included slapping a total ban on exports and abolition of import duty. India produces about 12 million tonnes of onion, of which exports accounted for about 1.8 million tonnes in last fiscal.