Onion prices may soar as Pakistan bans export via road, rail


Amritsar: Onion woes are likely to continue in India with Pakistan deciding to stop sending the commodity through both land and rail routes due to a shortage in that country, an official said. The sea route is open, but it will not make up for the shortfall, he added.

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India has received around 50 onion-laden trucks everyday from Pakistan through Attari-Wagah border check-post since Dec 21.

According to a communication received from Pakistan’s commerce ministry, onions will not come to India through both land and rail routes.

“Till yesterday, we were told that Pakistan has decided to stop sending onions through land route. But today it was confirmed that they will also not use goods train for sending onions, and opt only sea route. Now, no onion will reach Amritsar and it will directly go to Mumbai,” trader Rajdeep Uppal, who is the vice president of Amritsar Exports and Imports Chamber, told IANS here Thursday.

“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.

No truck of onions reached India Thursday whereas 78 trucks had crossed the border Wednesday.

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 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.40-50 per kg.