Onion exports declined by 18 per cent to 4.86 lakh tonnes in the first half of the fiscal on the government's steps to curb outbound shipments.
The exports stood at 4,85,930.51 tonnes during April-September period of the current 2015-16 fiscal compared with 5,89,900.89 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year, according to data compiled by National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF).
Exports dipped during the first six months of the fiscal as the government had hiked the minimum export price (MEP) to $700 per tonne in August this year as prices skyrocketed on lower output due to unseasonal rains.
With onion prices under control and ruling at low levels, the government yesterday scrapped the onion MEP to push outward bound shipments as domestic prices have crashed.
"All varieties of onions ... can be exported without any MEP," Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification. MEP is the rate below which no trader is allowed to export. The rise in MEP restricts exports and improves domestic supply.
In August, the government had hiked onion MEP to $700 per tonne, from $425 as prices skyrocketed on lower output due to unseasonal rains.
Earlier this month, the government had slashed the minimum export price (MEP) on onions to $400 per tonne from $700 to encourage outbound shipments of the commodity.
The Maharashtra government had recently asked the Centre to scrap the minimum export price for onions to help boost overseas shipments after wholesale prices of the bulb went down to the Rs 10 per kg level.
Wholesale onion prices have fallen to about Rs 10 a kg in the Lasalgaon market compared to Rs 26 in late November.
Onion production is estimated to be lower at 189 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June), slightly lower than 194 lakh tonnes a year ago.
Maharashtra, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh are the top three onion-producing states in the country.