KARACHI: Amid thriving exports and rising domestic prices, the Ministry of Commerce has fixed the minimum export price (MEP) of onion at $1,200 per tonne (FOB).

All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Abdul Waheed Ahmed said that the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan has issued a notification on Jan 12 quoting the commerce ministry, which also states that the export of onions will be allowed only under advance payment terms.

The national average price of onion has risen to Rs180-260 per kg during the week ending on Jan 11 from Rs160-250 in the preceding week, according to the PBS data.

When India imposed a ban on onion exports on Dec 8, 2023, the national average price of the vegetable in Pakistan was Rs130-220 per kg during the week ending Dec 7, 2023.

Mr Waheed said exporters had been getting huge orders after the Indian ban, which caused a steep rise in local prices.

He said exporters in a meeting with the commerce ministry on Friday proposed an upward revision in MEP from the existing $750 per tonne (FOB) with 100pc advance payments to avoid any losses to the growers, otherwise they would not grow onion next year besides bringing down local prices.

He expressed surprise as to why market committees were not controlling the rate and why the government departments appea­red helpless in exercising their duties of price stabilisation.

He believed that India could store its onions for three to four months as compared to the one-month storage time for Pakistani onions.

Pakistan needs to carry out R&D to develop better varieties of onion with longer shelf life to effectively control prices, he said.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2024

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