Onion imports from India high due to low output

- PRADEEP MENYANGBO, Dharan
Onion imports from India high due to low output

Feb 4, 2015-

Large quantities of onions are imported from India as domestic production cannot fulfil demand. Dharan buys Indian onions worth around Rs 150 million annually.

Laxman Bhattarai, manager of Krishi Upaj Bazaar, Dharan-13, said Dharan had been importing about 3,000 tonnes of onions annually from India. “Nepali households have to rely on Indian onions as local output falls short of demand,” he said. “Customers have to pay high prices for the imported vegetable.”

According to Bhattarai, sales at their market alone amounted to more than Rs 140 million during the last fiscal year. Although onion sales at the bazaar have grown massively, there is no official agency to fix market prices. As a result, consumers have been paying rampant prices for the imported vegetable.  

Traders estimate that 90 percent of the imported onions are sold in Dharan and adjoining areas while the rest are sold in the hill districts of Dhankuta, Terhathum and Bhojpur. According to Bhattarai, only 5 percent of the local onion requirement is fulfilled by the production in Saptari district.

Nepali consumers have been paying runaway prices for Indian onions. Prices shoot up when the Indian government seals the border at times of shortages in India. During these times, local consumers have to pay sky-high prices for smuggled onions.

A few months ago when there was a short supply in the Indian market, the price of imported onions reached up to Rs 140 per kg. Traders said that consumers have been paying more than Rs 100 per kg during festive seasons.

According to Bhattarai, growing local demand along with increasing dependency on Indian products has pushed up prices of the indispensable vegetable item.

Despite being an agrarian country, Nepal is highly dependent on Indian farm products. Agricultural experts said that lack of resources was a big hurdle to producing onions locally.

Rewati Dahal, an expert at the District Agriculture Development Office, Sunsari, said high production costs and the absence of a focused programme had slowed down onion production. According to him, there is growing attraction for Indian onions as local products decay fast and are difficult to store.

 

Published: 05-02-2015 09:35

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