Pakistani traders are exporting onions to India despite a drop in domestic production due to unprecedented floods and a surge in prices in markets across the country, traders said on Thursday.
Prices of onions have maintained high levels due to crops being affected by the floods, especially in the southern Sindh province, where agricultural lands were devastated by heavy rains and swollen rivers during July-August this year. The exports began earlier this week after the price of onions registered a sharp rise in India.
About 100 trucks carrying thousands of tonnes of onions have been sent through the Wagah land border in Punjab and Khalil Bhatti, a leading exporter in Lahore, said exports to India are likely to continue till January 15.
There is no specific agreement with Indian importers on the quantity of onions to be supplied by Pakistan and exporters in Lahore were filling orders as and when they are received from importers. “About 400 to 500 tonnes of onions are being sent across the border daily from Wagah at the rate of between Rs 44 and Rs 48 a kilogramme," Bhatti told PTI.
"We are getting supplies from Sindh for both Punjab province and Indian importers," he said.
Due to the floods, onion production in Sindh alone registered a decline of 500,000 to 600,000 tonnes this season, traders at Karachi’s main vegetable market said. The southern province caters for most of Pakistan’s requirement of onions during the winter. Pakistan’s annual onion yield is estimated at five to six million tonnes.
Since exports to India began, onion prices in Pakistan’s retail markets surged from Rs 60 a kg to Rs 70 a kg. However, this is almost half the current price of onions in India.
Exporters have also been buoyed by the Indian government’s decision to abolish a seven per cent custom duty on onion imports to provide relief to people hit hard by a steep rise in the price of onions.
This is the first time in a decade that India has imported onions from Pakistan and Pakistani exporters are hopeful of making good financial gains.
Ironically, the Pakistan government was forced to allow the import of vegetables, including onions, from India earlier this year after the floods caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains devastated thousands of acres of agricultural land.