The massive import, sources said, was the result of the gap in crop harvests of Sindh and Balochistan. According to market sources, local onion was being sold at a higher rate, ranging between Rs 1,800 and Rs 1900 per 40 kilograms, against the imported variety, which was of better quality, which was being sold at Rs 1,900-Rs 2,000 per 40 kilograms. Sources claimed that if they had not started importing onion, its price would have jumped to an unaffordable level.
The gap between harvesting onions in the two provinces was between 30 and 40 days. Stressing the need for an alternative mechanism to cope with this huge gap in harvest times, sources said that that the country was devoid of a proper storage facility. They said that there was need to make arrangements for prolonging storage of onion, adding that if there were proper facilities, there would hardly be any need for imports.
Onion production in Sindh, lasting between October and March, not only caters to the overall domestic demand but also kept the commodity’s prices at a stable and affordable level. The import from India would continue till March-April when the Balochistan crop would be available for domestic consumption.
Talking to Business Recorder, Waheed Ahmed, the Chairman of All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA) said that to meet the gap between harvests of onion crops, the country should ensure storage facilities, adding that the government should also encourage production of various varieties of onions. He said that the quality of local onion was fast deteriorating, which was forcing consumers and traders to opt for better quality imported varities. He urged the government to reduce existing duties on imports of agricultural products to provide people with kitchen items at affordable prices. According to him, bananas were also being imported from India on a massive scale.