Although in Nepal, the retail price of onions came down on Tuesday, this was the price of onions imported from China, not the regular ones that come from India.
Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board has stopped publishing prices of onion imported from India. Instead, it has started publishing prices of onions brought from China.
"We have stopped publishing onions brought from India as there has been no supply since a week ago. We were getting some supplies even after India put a ban on export. But since last week, the supply has dried up," Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, told Republica.
India put a ban on exports of onions on September 29 after the southern neighbor faced shortages due to a sharp decline in its production. According to Indian media, heavy rainfall this year destroyed the crop, resulting to shortage.
"Indian suppliers were sending onions to Nepal despite the ban, taking advantage of the porous border. But as the Indian government has intensified checking at border points, the market is not getting onions grown in India," Shrestha said.
Nepal relies heavily on India to meet its demand for onion. Almost 98% of domestic demand is met through imports from India, according to the board. Not only onions, Nepali farmers are also dependent on other countries for onion seeds.
According to the board, some 40 tons of onions from China is entering the Nepali market on a daily basis. "Nepalis are not used to the taste of Chinese onions. They are larger in size and moisture content is higher compared to Indian onions," Shrestha said, adding: "But there is no option but to consume Chinese onions."
He also added that Chinese onions are comparatively cheaper than the ones brought from India.