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November 25, 2020

Traders end self-ban to restart onion exports

Business

November 25, 2020

KARACHI: Ending a self-imposed ban, traders are resuming onion exports from November 27, 2020 (Friday), citing a 50 percent fall in vegetable’s prices and its full market availability, a business body official said on Tuesday.

“We have achieved the demanded target by halting exports. Onion price that had jumped to Rs2,800/40kg before the November 3 ban have now come down to Rs1,200-1,300/40kg after the fresh bulk harvest in Sindh,” said Waheed

Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association (PFVA), in a statement.

“The PFVA, after carrying out a critical ‘supply and price’ analysis, met with onion exporters on November 20, 2020, and in view of the improved situation decided to restart exports from November 27, 2020, keeping Department of Plant Protection in the loop.”

Ahmed, however, added that due to temporary discontinuation of export of onion, matured and fully ready crops would be available.

He said Pakistan had a window of opportunity to export onion in the international market for an additional month, during which exporters, taking advantage of surplus volume, would export and generate valuable foreign exchange for the country. “After one month, the Indian onion will also be available in the world markets, limiting Pakistan’s export opportunities.”

He appealed to the federal food and commerce ministries that keeping the interests of Pakistani growers in view, the import of onion and potato from should Iran should be banned.

On the other hand, growers body Sindh Abadgar Board (SAB) said it was not justified to impose an export ban, when government did not have any policy of support price in onions.

“When onion prices fall below cost of production, there is no support price mechanism in place and growers suffer tremendous losses,” the growers’ body said.

The duty-free import of onion was on and onion was being imported in Pakistan irrespective of the domestic production, a SAB official said, adding that the price of onion in Pakistan was the lowest in the region, whereas the cost of production the highest.

Mehmood Nawaz Shah, senior vice president SAB in a statement, demanded of the government to develop a threshold for the wholesale price, which should not be less than Rs70/kg.

“Sindh produces about 45 percent of onions of Pakistan. The major production is between October and March. During this duration, major export of onion takes place, that too when India does not.”

Shah said Indian onion due to better institutional support, research and development, pre and post harvest handling was able to produce better quality onion with a longer shelf life.

“This year Pakistan has an opportunity to export onions,” he said and added, “In the last 15 days there has been no export of onion as the federal government, through a technical barrier, has halted it on the pretext of rising onion prices.”

Shah said the wholesale price of onion had gone down from Rs60 to Rs38 in the wholesale ex-Karachi. “The farmer is receiving approximately Rs20 ex-farm. It’s fallacious to expect that the prices of agricultural commodities should not increase,” he said.