ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Agri-exports: Long-term Perspective

Long-term Perspective The removal of onions from the essential commodities list paves the way for an expansion of production, supply, distribution and exports of this important vegetable. Onions were bracketed as an essential commodity after a slump in production and spike in prices cost the BJP a string of elections in 1998. Although onion production has been consistently strong in the five years since, restrictions under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) have meant that farmers have not been able to export even during a glut. Given the highly perishable nature of the vegetable, this has caused huge wastage and losses. But its importance in the diet of Indian households and the power of onion prices to influence electoral outcomes has meant that governments have been wary of taking steps that may reduce domestic availability and increase prices. Even the removal of onions from the purview of the ECA has been essentially an act of political largesse, a sort of reward for the rural voters of Maharashtra.

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