Onion export ban was not panic decision: Minister

September 21st, 2011 - 7:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) Facing flak over the two-week ban on onion exports that was lifted Sep 20, Food Minister K.V. Thomas said it was not a “panic” decision but a “precautionary” step aimed at protecting domestic consumers.

“There was a panic decision in December 2010. This time, we took the decision much before in September,” Thomas told reporters Tuesday.

The government last year banned onion exports after prices touched Rs.80-85 per kg in major retail markets across the country, and imported large quantities of onions from neighbouring Pakistan to meet domestic demand.

The minister said the Sep 9 ban, when prices touched Rs.25 per kg, was reviewed after massive farmer protests in the major onion growing states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka.

The farmers assured the government there would be no shortage of the kitchen staple in domestic markets, Thomas said. “The government needs to balance the interest of consumers and farmers,” he added.

The government also decided to fix the minimum export price (MEP) for onions at a high level of $475 a tonne to discourage exports.

–Indo-Asian New Service

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