The Agriculture Ministry on Wednesday relaxed fumigation norms for imported onions up to November 30 in a bid to improve domestic supply and check prices that have skyrocketed up to Rs 80/kg.
The fumigation provisions have been liberalised as the government has decided to facilitate private import of the key kitchen staple from Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran to boost the availability and check price rise.
"In the light of public concern over high prices of onions in the market, the Agriculture Ministry has decided to allow relaxation from the condition of fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine (PQ) Order, 2003 for onion imports up to November 30, 2019," an official statement said.
Traders who have imported onions without fumigation or having endorsement of such treatment on phytosanitary certificate (PSC) will be allowed to fumigate in India through an accredited treatment provider, it said.
The consignment will be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India, it said.
Also, such consignments of onions will not be subjected to the four times additional inspection fees on account of non-compliance of conditions under the 2003 PQ Order, it added.
Currently, imported onions are allowed in the country after the commodity is fumigated with Methyl Bromide and certified by the exporting nation. Importers are required to pay huge charges if found non-complied with this provision.
Retail prices of onion in the country have remain high for more than a month due to 30-40 per cent decline in the kharif onion output because of heavy rains in the growing states.
The prices have been under pressure despite the government measures including offloading the buffer stock for retailing at a cheaper rate, ban on exports and imposition of stock holding limits on traders.
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