The state of Maharashtra and the African country of Egypt are all set to create history by trading onions for the first time. With a poor crop causing prices of the kitchen essential to soar, traders have resorted to importing the vegetable from the distant shores of Africa.
Since prices started skyrocketing earlier this year, traders have blamed it on a paucity of the bulbous vegetable, owing to the poor rains last year. The dearth of the commodity has prompted traders to call for consignments from Egypt, which will be entering Vashi’s Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC) market this morning.
Traders from the market claim that this is the first time that onions from Egypt would be entering APMC, Vashi. A total of four containers are being imported from the African country, each containing 15 tonnes of what has now become a costly commodity in the country. Speaking to MiD DAY, the trader who has imported the consignment revealed that the order for 60 tonnes of the vegetable was placed around a month ago.
“It’s difficult to predict the rate the commodity would fetch, as that would depend on its quality. If the produce gets an acceptable rate, then we would sell all of it at APMC market,” said the trader. Back in 1997-98, when the prices of onion had gone up, onions from Iran had entered the market. According to market sources, the onions will be coming to the importer’s godown via Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), popularly known as Nhava Sheva.
Ashok Walunj, director of the onion potato market at APMC Vashi, confirmed that over 4,000 bags of onion are being expected to enter the market. “The traders who have imported the produce will be bringing it to APMC at 11 am on Saturday. Only after that would we be able to detect if there has been any percentage of damage to the produce,” said Walunj.
However, this method of acquisition hasn’t been without its glitches. A trader from the Vashi market said that the onions coming from Egypt could fetch any price between Rs 45-48 per kilo. “As per the information going around in the market, there has been 10 per cent damage to the commodity, as there was an uncalled-for delay in getting all the necessary clearances in the customs at JNPT,” said a trader.
Meanwhile, the trading enterprise that has imported the onions confirmed that it took 14 days for the commodity to reach the port. S N Maharaja, chief manager of operations at JNPT, said it was difficult to confirm the consignment till he got his hands on the container number. Meanwhile, the trader who has imported the consignment did not pick up calls made by MiD DAY all day.
Rates of onions at APMC wholesale market for a kilo
Retail market rate as of yesterday for a kilo
Mumbai Central market