According to the sources, the government released onion consignments to three neighboring countries after prices there hit the roof due to India’s abrupt decision to ban exports on September 14.
It was important to release about 30,000 quintals of onion, whose letters of credit (LCs) had been opened to ameliorate public inconvenience caused in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
The release would also keep Pakistan, Turkey and China at bay who could have immediately filled the void. India does not enjoy good diplomatic ties with these countries and would prefer other regional players like Thailand, Egypt, Uzbekistan or Afghanistan to step in.
Because of rise in prices domestically, the government had banned onion exports except for cut, sliced and powdered due to excessive rainfall hitting its crop in some southern states.
As a result, prices have shaken in Bhutan and shown a steady rising trend that threatens to worsen in Bangladesh and Nepal.
Sources also said that a multi-ministry effort supervised by the Ministry of External Affairs led to the release and transportation of onion consignments that were deemed to have been sold with the opening of LCs.
India has emerged as an unreliable exporter for the second year running. It had banned onion exports last year as well, impacting neighbors like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh that are near-totally dependent on Indian onions.