The government on Thursday extended relaxed norms for onion imports for one and a half months till January 31 next year, to boost domestic supply and check the retail prices of the key kitchen staple. To facilitate import of onion, the government had on October 21 relaxed the conditions for fumigation and additional declaration on the Phytosanitary Certificate (PSC) under the Plant Quarantine Order (PQ), 2003 for import up to December 15, 2020.
In an official statement, the Agriculture Ministry said it has decided to extend the relaxation for imports up to January 31, 2021, in the light of public concern over high prices of onion in the market. Stating that the relaxation will be subject to certain conditions, the ministry said the consignments of imported onions, which arrive in Indian port without fumigation and such endorsement on the PSC, would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider.
The consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India. Further, if smut or dry rot is intercepted during the inspection, the particular container will be rejected and deported.
In case of pests like stem and bulbs nematode or onion maggot being detected, these should be eliminated through fumigation and the consignment released without additional inspection fee, it added. The ministry said that the conditions also stipulate that an undertaking should be obtained from importers that the onions will be used only for consumption and not for propagation.
Also, such consignments of onion for consumption will not be subjected to the four times additional inspection fee for non-compliance of conditions of import under the PQ Order, 2003, it noted. Imports are being undertaken by private trade. Onion prices have started moderating to some extent in some parts of the country with the arrival of the new crop.
For instance, in the national capital, onion prices are ruling below at Rs 40 per kg on Thursday from the level of Rs 65-70 per kg in October.