Amid rising onion prices hurting consumers, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said he was not in favour of a ban on onion exports, saying such a move will hit the country's image as a global supplier of farm produce.
The minister said the rise in onion prices is a "temporary situation" as heavy rains in major producing states like Maharashtra have affected supplies.
"It is not fair to ban export of any agricultural commodities. ...India has now established its position as a major supplier of agricultural items in the global market. If we ban exports, this image will be affected. So, we are against export ban on onion," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a CII event on dairy sector.
The country's agricultural exports have increased to Rs 2.33 lakh crore during the 2012-13 fiscal, as against Rs 1.86 lakh crore in the previous year, he said.
According to sources, both Consumer Affairs and Commerce ministries are mulling over banning onion exports for short term to bring down its domestic prices and give relief to consumers, who are already burdened with overall price rise.
Asked when onion prices are expected to cool down, Pawar said, "It is a temporary situation. Heavy rains in key producing states has affected supplies. Rains has affected crops as well as transport and logistics."
The retail price of onion has risen to Rs 35-40 per kg in Delhi and most parts of the country, while the wholesale price has increased to Rs 25 per kg at Lasalgoan in Maharashtra, Asia's biggest onion market.
Onion prices are likely to be under pressure till October when the new crop is expected to hit the market.
According to official data, India has exported 5,11,616 tonnes of onion amounting Rs 776.47 crore in first quarter of this fiscal against 5,17,274 tonnes in the year-ago period.
Although production is expected to be normal at around 15-16 million tonnes this year, lower crop in states like Tamil Nadu has put pressure on Maharashtra.