The Indian onion season has been a vibrant one, with prices being higher than they’ve been for the past three years. Although the weather can partly be blamed for this price increase, it’s also true that the production areas for onions have decreased.
For Indian onions traders, the season is proving to be pretty good. Although exporting to other countries is harder than the last years, opportunities to make money have presented themselves in India. Sagar Tikyani is the founder of Indian trading company Dilip Agro, and explains why there was money to be made this season: “The season has been good for onion traders and those who stockpiled onions. A lot of traders have made money because prices have been at three-year high this season, while some traders have not been able to seize this opportunity. The demand has been constant in every area, however supply has been short. Farmers have devoted less area to onion cultivation this year, as they did not get good prices for the onions last year. A lot of farmers threw their crops at 100-200 INR per quintal last year, which has led to low allocation towards onion this year.”
The weather has played a part in the onion cultivation this year, as flood-like situations pestered the country. “The flood-like situations in the Maharashtra Belt, which is the highest onion producing state, has been quite worrisome. The rains have also been extended this year, but we’re expecting good quality onions for the next harvest, which starts at the end of October,” Tikyani said. “Other challenges came from exporting the Indian onions. The high prices have made these onions less attractive for potential importing countries. It’s hard to compete with the Chinese onions this year, when it comes to the prices.”
The biggest markets for the Indian exporter are those relatively close to home. “The biggest market for Indian Onions have been Bangladesh, Sri lanka, UAE, Malaysia and other Asian countries. These are the areas where American and Egyptian onions lose the freight advantage and our transit time is less than theirs. Indian Onions are well known for their spicy-strong taste and their rounder size. The 25-35 mm, also called “Golta”, has been in high demand in open markets, just like 45 mm+ . Surprisingly, this size range is being sold at only 100 INR per quintal less than the latter, due to the shortage of the former size.” Tikyani explained.
“As of now, we are in talks with some Sri Lankan, UAE and Qatar clients for Onions. We will be visiting Sri lanka this week to meet a few importers and seek business opportunities. But, we are in a continuous effort to look for markets in Europe where Spain primarily dominates through its yellow Spanish onions. We are primarily a local trader/supplier in onions, garlic and potatoes. Apart from these, we have our presence in grapes, bananas and apples as well through our group company ‘SK Fruits Pvt. Ltd’. We have been in this business for the last 45 years and with old relationships with local farmers, we are well equipped to supply International Clients as per their requirements. Indian onions continue to remain attractive despite the high prices we just spoke of. The current FOB JNPT (Mumbai) price for 45+ sizes as of today is 520 USD per ton. While we look for export opportunities, we are also open to import opportunities in garlic, apples, and other fruits & vegetables.” Tikyani concluded.
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