By: Masouda Qarizada
KABUL: As prices of onion continue to soar in India, the import of the kitchen staple has seen a surge from Afghanistan through integrated check post (ICP) at Attari, 30km from Amritsar, on the India-Pakistan border, according to Hindustan Times report.
Indian traders say 85 to 90 trucks from Afghanistan laden with onions are reaching the ICP daily for the past one week. Each truck carries 35 tons of onions. Before the price hike, only 15 to 20 truckloads of the commodity were being imported from Afghanistan per day.
Onion traders say the Union government should give 5% incentive on invoice to them, as was being given before 2014, so that ample supply of onion is received from Afghanistan, which will reduce prices in India.
Earlier, Indian traders used to import onions from Pakistan, also through the ICP, but since all trade relations between India and the neighboring country have been suspended post New Delhi’s action of abrogating Article 370 which gave special status to erstwhile state Jammu and Kashmir, the onions are only being imported from Afghanistan under the bilateral transit trade agreement between Pakistan and its central Asia neighbor.
“Since the past six days, the ICP has witnessed sharp increase in the import of onions from Afghanistan. Not only onions, dry fruit import has also seen a jump,” said Sukhdev Singh, Land Ports Authority of India in-charge at the ICP.
“On Saturday, 85 trucks from Afghanistan reached the ICP. Around 3,000 tons of onions are being imported on a daily basis thorough the ICP, but still we consider it is not ample to reduce the skyrocketing prices in India,” said Jatinder Khurana, onion importer and general secretary of Vallah Vegetables Market in Amritsar.
He said: “The import has picked up pace as Indian government has reduced duty from ¹ 52,000 to only ¹ 8,000 per truck. If the government wants us to import more onions from Afghanistan, it should also start giving us 5% incentive on invoice.”
President of the Food and Vegetables Merchants Union, Punjab, Charanjit Singh Chatha told Hindustan Times: “Onion imported from Afghanistan is being supplied across the country. The wholesale price of Afghanistan onions, which are little bitter in taste, is ¹ 50 to ¹ 60 per kg. The wholesale price of Indian variety is ¹ 60 to ¹ 70 per kg.”
Onion traders say heavy rains damaged onion crop in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan, causing shortage of the commodity in the country.
Gurdev Singh, a vegetable vendor in Amritsar, told Hindustan Times: “I have been getting onion at ¹ 70 per kg and selling it further at ¹ 80 per kg.”
An official at Attari said the trade at the ICP remains closes on Sunday. He said more than 200 trucks from Afghanistan are scheduled reach the ICP on Monday.