State governments have given the federal government a short shrift, picking up only 2,501 tonnes of the 33,000 tonnes onions they had placed import orders for when onion prices went through the roof in October-November last year.
As onion prices started rising due to low arrivals in wholesale markets due to damage to crops on account of unseasonal rains, state governments sent in requests to the Centre to import the kitchen staple to rein in prices. According to the Consumer Affairs Ministry estimates, 18 states had put forth a cumulative demand of 33,139 tonnes of onions, prompting the Centre to ask MMTC to import onions and orders to the tune of 41,950 tonnes were placed.
Of the total contracted onions, imports to the tune of 36,124 tonnes materialised with consignments landing mostly at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust near Mumbai. As the imported onions started arriving at the ports, the Centre asked the state governments to lift the consignments either from the port itself or have it delivered at the state headquarters.