Cooperative major Nafed may float a tender early next week for importing onions to boost domestic supplies and curb prices that have risen to Rs 70-80 per kg in retail markets across major cities.
To give relief to Delhiites, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd has started selling onions at Rs 55 a kg through its five retail outlets and two mobile vans in the national capital.
In a bid to increase local supplies and curb rising prices of onions, the government on August 14 fixed a minimum export price of $650 per tonne for the commodity and asked Nafed to import onions.
Following the government's directions, sources said Nafed has started enquiring about supplies and prices in the global markets, including Pakistan and Iran.
The cooperative is expected to gather all the information from trade channel partners by tomorrow, they added.
The tender for onion imports is likely to be floated early next week, sources said. Besides Pakistan and Iran, Nafed is exploring the option of buying onions from China and Egypt.
Meanwhile, onion wholesale prices eased by about Rs 2 at the Lasalgaon in Nashik to Rs 44 a kg on increased arrivals, according to data maintained by the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation.
"Traders at Lasalgaon market are still selling onions at high prices as their sales have not been affected," NHRDF Director R P Gupta told PTI.
At Azadpur mandi in Delhi, onion prices remain at the previous level of Rs 50-55 per kg.
"Onion supply is normal today. Around 12,000 quintals have arrived in the market but prices are still high due to speculation," Onion Merchant Traders Association President Surendra Budhiraj said.
India exported 6.39 lakh tonnes of onions during April-July of this fiscal year, compared with 6.94 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period. Production stood at 16.6 million tonnes in 2012-13.