Indian onions are fetching as much as ₹140 a kilogram in Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the UAE, more than ten times the wholesale price in Nashik, tempting smugglers to defy a ban on the export of the bulb vegetable, traders said.These «rogue exporters», traders said, are shipping out onions by mis-declaring them as potatoes, shallots or even labelling them as grapes.
India banned the export of onions effective December 8 to make the essential kitchen staple cheaper for domestic consumers. This has led to a crash in the price from more than ₹40 a kg to around ₹13 currently in the wholesale market of Nashik, India's main onion-growing region.
The ban on exports by the second largest onion producer, which used to ship 40,000-50,000 tonnes of the commodity every week, caused a spike in international prices.
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The huge difference in the prices in the local and export markets enticed smugglers, trade sources said. They estimate the weekly illegal export of onions to be 700-800 tonnes. The smugglers, they said, are making a profit of around ₹30 lakh per container of 28-30 tonnes. «The buyers at the destination countries are telling us that they are getting a regular supply of Indian onions ,» Horticulture Produce Exporters' Association president Ajit Shah said.
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After the association flagged the issue in January, the finance ministry asked the customs department to take legal action against exporters shipping onions illegally.
«It has been brought to the notice of the board that some