Connect with us

News

India banned onion exports. Now Asia has eye-watering prices

Published

on

From Kathmandu to Colombo, it’s a kitchen nightmare: Onion prices have gone crazy. That’s because India, the world’s biggest seller of the Asian diet staple, has banned exports after extended Monsoon downpours delayed harvests and supplies shrivelled. And dedicated buyers across the region, like Nepalese housewife Seema Pokharel, are flummoxed.

“This is a terrible increase,” said Pokharel, out shopping for vegetables in Kathmandu. “Onion prices have more than doubled in the last month alone.”

Whether it’s Pakistani chicken curry, Bangladeshi biryani or Indian sambar, Asian consumers have developed a serious dependence on Indian onion supplies for go-to dishes. Shorter shipment times than from rival exporters like China or Egypt play a crucial role in preserving the taste of the perishable commodity.

But last Sunday India banned all exports from India after local prices jumped to 4,500 rupees ($63.30) per 100 kg, their highest in nearly six years, due to the delay in summer-sown crop arrivals triggered by longer, heavier rains than usual.

Since the ban, countries such as Bangladesh have turned to the likes of Myanmar, Egypt, Turkey and China to increase supplies in a bid bring prices down, government officials and traders said.

But the hefty volumes lost will be hard to replace.

India exported 2.2 million tonnes of fresh onions in the 2018/19 fiscal year ended March 31, according to data from India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. That’s more than half of all imports by Asian countries, traders estimate.

‘TAKING ADVANTAGE’

Rising prices of alternative supplies will add to the headache for importers trying to get the vegetable from elsewhere, said Mohammad Idris, a trader based in Dhaka. In the Bangladesh capital, consumers are now being asked to pay 120 taka ($1.42) per kilogramme for their prized onions – twice the price a fortnight ago and the highest since December, 2013.

“Prices are going up elsewhere in Asia and Europe,” said Idris. “Other exporting countries are taking advantage of the Indian ban” to raise their asking price.

In response to the crisis, the government of Bangladesh has initiated sales of subsidised onions through the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).

“We are looking for all possible options to import onions. Our target is to import in the shortest possible time,” said TCB spokesman Humayun Kabir.

But the shipments from elsewhere – Iran and Turkey are also potential suppliers – that authorities in countries across the region are investigating will all take time.

“It takes one month when it comes from Egypt and about 25 days from China, while it takes only a few days from India,” said Dhaka trader Idris.

The need for alternative imports is so severe, though, that countries like Sri Lanka have already placed orders with Egypt and China, said G Rajendran, president of the Essential Food Commodities, Importers and Traders Association.

Onion prices in Sri Lanka have risen by 50% in a week, to 280-300 Sri Lankan rupees per kilogramme.

‘DOUBLE THE PRICE’

For other countries, there may be little option but to sit tight and hope for the best.

Malaysia, the second-biggest buyer of Indian onions, expects the ban to be temporary and sees no reason to panic, said Sim Tze Tzin, deputy minister of agriculture.

But even India has been importing onions from Egypt in an effort to calm prices. And there won’t be any meaningful drop in prices before summer-sown crops start to hit the market, said Ajit Shah, president of the Mumbai-based Onion Exporters’ Association.

That’s not expected until mid-November, meaning the export ban isn’t going away in the near term.

“India could resume exports once prices drop, but it will take time,” said Shah. “Until India resumes exports, supplies will remain limited in Asia.”

For now, consumers like Kathmandu shopper Pokharel are having to change habits across Asia.

“I went to buy 5 kilogrammes of onions for our five-member family but ended up buying only 3 kilogrammes due to higher prices,” said Afroza Mimi, a Dhaka housewife on a shopping expedition the day after India imposed the export ban.

“They (traders) are selling old stock nearly at double the price. This is crazy.”

source

News

‘No need for third-party intervention’: China rejects Trump’s offer to ‘mediate’ on border row with India

Published

on

China has finally reacted to US President Donald Trump’s offer to “mediate or arbitrate” on the Indo-Sino border dispute, saying that there was “no need for a third-party intervention” between Beijing and New Delhi.

Rejecting Trump’s mediation offer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “China and India are capable of properly resolving the issues through dialogue and consultation.”

Reacting for the first time to the US President’s offer, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said said the two countries did not want the “intervention” from a third party to resolve the military standoff.

“Between China and India we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels,” Zhao told reporters and added “We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of the third party.”

Amid heightened tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday made a surprise offer to mediate between India and China over what he calls “their now raging border dispute”.

“We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute. Thank you!,” President Trump tweeted.

However, in a carefully crafted reaction to Trump’s offer to arbitrate, India on Thursday said it was engaged with China to peacefully resolve the border row.

“We are engaged with the Chinese side to peacefully resolve it,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, replying to a volley of questions at an online media briefing.

“The two sides have established mechanisms both at military and diplomatic levels to resolve situations which may arise in border areas peacefully through dialogue and continue to remain engaged through these channels,” he said.

Although, the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not react then, an op-ed in the state-run Global Times said both countries did not need such help from the US president.

“The latest dispute can be solved bilaterally by China and India. The two countries should keep alert on the US, which exploits every chance to create waves that jeopardise regional peace and order,” it said.

Trump’s unexpected offer came on a day when China took an apparently conciliatory tone by saying that the situation at the border with India is “overall stable and controllable.”

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that both China and India have proper mechanisms and communication channels to resolve the issues through dialogue and consultations.

Meanwhile, China’s official response on the matter today comes as US President Donald Trump on Thursday, while reiterating his offer to “mediate”, said that he spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Indo-Sino border dispute.

In a startling claim, Donald Trump on Thursday said he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is “not in a good mood” over the border row between India and China.

“They like me in India. I think they like me in India more than the media likes me in this country. And, I like Modi. I like your prime minister a lot. He is a great gentleman,” Trump said speaking to reporters at the Oval Office of the White House.

“They have a big conflict …India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people (each). Two countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy and probably China is not happy,” the president said when asked if he was worried about the border situation between India and China.

“I can tell you; I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He is not in a good mood about what is going on with China,” Trump claimed.

However, Indian government officials have contradicted the claim saying that the last conversation between the two leaders was on April 4 on the matter related to Hydroxychloroquine.

“There has been no recent contact between PM Modi and US President Trump. The last conversation between them was on 4 April, 2020, on the subject of Hydroxychloroquine,” said government sources, according to media reports.

“Yesterday, the Ministry of External Affairs had also made it clear that we’re directly in touch with China through established mechanisms and diplomatic contacts,” they said.

Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.

The nearly 3,500-km-long LAC is the de-facto border between the two countries.

Indian and Chinese troops have remained engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in several areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, signalling that the standoff could become the biggest military face-off after the Doklam crisis in 2017.

Earlier, the United States had accused China of engaging in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities with neighbouring countries including India.

The offer for mediation has come as a surprise as the US-China military frictions are also on the rise with the US navy stepping its patrols in the disputed South China Sea as well as the Taiwan Straits. Washington and Beijing are also engaged in a war of words over the origin of the Coronavirus pandemic.

source

Continue Reading

News

Coronavirus cases cross 1.58 lakh in India; US passes 1 lakh deaths

Published

on

With over 6,566 fresh cases reported in the last  24 hours, the COVID-19 tally in India reached 1,58,333 on Thursday with as many as 4,531 fatalities, according to ministry of health.

Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Delhi remain the worst-affected states, with Maharashtra alone reporting 56,948 COVID-19 infections and 1,897 deaths. Tamil Nadu has reported 18,545 cases with 182 deaths. Gujarat has 15,195 cases with death toll at 938.

Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the biggest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with 162 people testing positive for the disease, raising the tally to 1,921. Of these, 1,535 are in Kashmir and 386 in Jammu region. The number of active cases has now gone up to 1,041, 288 in Jammu and 753 in Kashmir.

The rise in cases comes amid easing of lockdown relaxations and the restarting of one-third of all domestic flights.

Meanwhile, globally the number of infections has reached  5,693,066 with 355,629 number of deaths according to Johns Hopkins data.

The United States remains the worst affected country with 1,699,176 cases of infections and death toll at 100,442. This comes as many states relax preventative measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

According to The Guardian, the pandemic has killed more Americans than the Vietnam and Korean wars combined, and the death toll is approaching that of the first world war, when more than 116,000 Americans died in combat.

US is followed by Brazil, Russia, and United Kingdom with maximum number of cases of COVID-19.

South Korea, which had successfully reduced its coronavirus cases has reported 79 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the highest one-day increase in 53 days, the BBC reports.

This week, infections continued to creep up in and around the country’s capital Seoul. Jeong Eun-kyeong, the director of Korea Centers for Disease control and Prevention, has now said social distancing measures eased in April may need to be reimposed.

The development comes after World Health Organisation had warned countries which were easing the lockdown to stay cautious of a second wave of infections.

source

Continue Reading

News

IMD issues ‘red alert’ for North India as heatwave intensifies, warns people to stay indoors between 1-5pm

Published

on

As the temperature in the Northern India is soaring high with each passing day the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that heatwave is likely to persist for the next few days in most parts of the northern India, Maharashtra and Telangana. While, the day temperature in the state capital is likely to touch 46 degrees Celsius by Tuesday.

The IMD has also issued a ‘red alert’ for a severe heatwave, for parts of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Rajasthan for the next two days.  While sweltering heat engulfing the capital city on Sunday with maximum temperature hovering close to 45 degrees Celsius in most parts of the city.

Meanwhile, the IMD also issued “orange” warning for eastern Uttar Pradesh.

“Heatwave will prevail in many places and severe heatwave in isolated places. Mainly clear sky with strong surface winds (20-20 kilometres per hour),” the IMD forecast said.

The maximum temperature was recorded at 44.4 degrees Celsius, which was five notches above the normal, on Sunday and the minimum temperature was recorded at 28.7 degrees Celsius, two notches above the normal.

The temperature is likely to remain around 46-48 degrees Celsius in all the northern states affected by heatwaves except for Uttar Pradesh.

Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the regional forecasting centre of the IMD, said some respite from the stifling heat is expected in the national capital on May 28 due to a fresh Western Disturbance and easterly winds at lower levels.

“Dust storm and thunderstorm with winds gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour is likely over Delhi-NCR on May 29-30,” he said.

Srivastava added that this this is the first “Red” warning for heatwave which is issued by the IMD according to the intensity ascending from  green to  yellow to orange with the highest level of red.

“The warning has been issued to caution people not to step out between 1 pm and 5 pm, when heat is most intense,” said Srivastava.

The ‘Red alert’ comes at a time when lakhs of migrant labourers are on roads, walking back to their home states amid the Coronavirus lockdown, making it all the more difficult for them to reach their destinations when even the ‘Shramik Special’ trains and buses with inadequate numbers and mismanagement haven’t been able to take them  back safely.

source

Continue Reading

Newsletters

Enter your email address to get latest updates

Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2018 - 2019 Delhi Wire.