In­di­ans in tears over sky­rock­et­ing onion prices

The Pak Banker - - I Nternational -

MUM­BAI: There is much that di­vides In­dia and its tra­di­tional ri­val Pak­istan: fam­i­lies long sep­a­rated by par­ti­tion, di­vided Kash­mir, fear of a fourth war be­tween the nu­clear ad­ver­saries. But when it comes to the Great Onion Cri­sis of 2010, grate­ful In­dia has found a friend across the border.

Onion prices across In­dia have more than dou­bled to as much as 90 cents a pound this month, send­ing shock waves through veg­etable mar­ket and kitchen alike in a coun­try where many sub­sist on $1 a day. Some have taken to the streets in protest be­decked in onion gar­lands. "Ever Had Biriyani With­out Onions?" screamed a head­line in the Mid Day tabloid. So im­por­tant is the hum­ble onion that state gov­ern­ments in Delhi and Ra­jasthan fell in 1998 over ris­ing onion prices and the "onion fac­tor" helped over­throw the cen­tral govern­ment in 1980. Af­ter ini­tially ig­nor­ing the loom­ing short­age, the govern­ment quickly banned ex­ports, promised to re­lease strate­gic "onion re­serves," elim­i­nated im­port du­ties and dou­bled the num­ber of rail car­riages de­voted to the vi­tal veg­etable. That's where Pak­istan comes in. For most of the last week, it de­liv­ered on av­er­age about 50 trucks each car­ry­ing 10 tons of onions daily.

Lit­tle moved on Christ­mas, an In­dian hol­i­day, or Sun­day, with ship­ments ex­pected to re­sume Mon­day. Some In­dian traders com­plain that the qual­ity of bulbs from Pak­istan's Sindh prov­ince was in­fe­rior to do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion from Ra­jasthan or Gu­jarat states.

Some Mid­dle East na­tions also are com­pet­ing with In­dia for Pak­istan's onions even as the added de­mand drives up do­mes­tic onion prices in Pak­istan. And In­dia, the world's sec­ond-largest onion pro­ducer, is con­sid­er­ing im­port­ing about 50,000 tons from the world's largest pro­ducer, China. -Afp

MADRID: Newly elected Span­ish Con­fed­er­a­tion of Busi­ness Or­gan­i­sa­tions (CEOE) Pres­i­dent Juan Rosell (R) and Spain's Econ­omy Min­is­ter Elena Sal­gado pose for a pic­ture be­fore their meet­ing at Madrid's econ­omy min­istry Mon­day. -Reuters

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