India has approached the Bangladeshi Acting High Commissioner, Rokebul Haque, with an offer to sell onions to Bangladesh at a reduced price. These onions were imported by India earlier to meet the domestic demand, but were later not required. The offer was made to Bangladesh by India's Union's Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Out of the total import of 36,000 tonnes of onions, India brought in 18,000 tonnes on January 12, said an Indian official who wanted to remain anonymous.
"Out of the amount of onions that have been brought in, the state governments have taken only around 3,000 tonnes while the rest of the stock is waiting at Mumbai JNPT port," the official added.
Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan confirmed earlier this month that a number of states have withdrawn their demand for imported onions. These states include Maharashtra 10,000 tonnes, Assam 3,000, Haryana 3,480, Karnataka 250 and Odisha 100 tonnes.
The states had asked for imported onions to deflate the soaring prices — over Rs 100 per kg in November-December — of the commodity, but backed out citing high prices and difference in taste.
This has sparked concern that if the states do not take the imported onions, the commodity will perish. Onions are a highly perishable item which depreciates by 35 percent per week because of rotting and sprouting.
The official added that while India imported most of the stock at around $600-700 per tonne, the Modi government is offering it to Bangladesh for $550-$580 per tonne.
However, during the meeting Bangladesh argued that it has already imported Chinese onions which are in the pipeline through Nepal, so India should offer some incentives like free transportation, added the official.
'We are neighbours'
The development has come nearly three months after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina publicly aired her displeasure over the Modi government's move to stop the export of onions to Bangladesh during her four-day visit to India.
"I wish you had informed us before suddenly putting a halt on the export of onions. I had to tell my cook I have no other option but to have my food without onions. I would request India to please inform us beforehand while taking such action. After all, we are neighbours," she had said.