Onion woes are likely to continue in India with Pakistan deciding to stop sending the commodity through the Attari-Wagah border check-post and also cutting down on the quantity due to a shortage in that country, an official said.
According to a communication received from Pakistan's commerce ministry, onions will not come through the land route but instead the rail route.
"We yesterday (Wednesday) got the news that Pakistan has decided to stop sending onions through land route and will opt for goods train," trader Rajdeep Uppal, who is Amritsar Exports and Imports Chamber vice president, said.
"They have also decided to cut down the exports. The decision can be attributed to the shortage of onions in their own market," he added.
Uppal said every day around 50 onion-laden trucks were coming to India since Dec 21, except on holidays. Each truck carried 10 to 12 tonnes of onions.
R.K. Duggal, deputy commissioner (customs), Attari, confirmed the ban on exports through the border.
"Yes, we have received this communication but they (Pakistan) have not cited any reason behind this move," he said.
Traders were apprehensive whether Pakistan would also stop exporting through the rail route.
"We came to know that they have also stopped exporting through rail route. But we are not sure about it and are trying to confirm it from the authorities concerned," Uppal said.
With onion prices touching Rs.100 a kg in some parts of the country last month, Indian traders started buying it from Pakistan at Rs.300-350 a quintal.
Most of the onions coming to India are from Pakistan's Sindh province. However, according to traders the quality of the Pakistani onion is not as good as that produced in India.
"We are surprised by this sudden decision of Pakistan. Yesterday (Wednesday), over 270 trucks, loaded with onions, were waiting at the border to cross into India. But majority of them were called back and only 78 trucks reached here," importer Maninder Singh said.
"We are never in favour of onion trade through goods trains. It is comparatively slow and more expensive. We are afraid that this development could again escalate the onion prices in India," he added.
Majority of imported onions from Pakistan are being consumed in different parts of Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh at a cost of Rs.40 to 50 per kg.