New Delhi: With the price of onions hitting the century mark, the government is expediting supply from imports with over 5,500 tonnes of onion are to hit the retail markets shortly.

Of this, 2,500 tonnes have already reached the Indian ports in 80 containers of which 70 are from Egypt and 10 from Netherlands. Another 3,000 tonnes are to come from 100 containers in the high seas which are being diverted to Indian ports, Agriculture Ministry sources said.

Onions are in short supply as erratic rains have hit production by 30-40 per cent this year and their price has crossed Rs 100 a kg.

The Consumer Affairs Ministry had announced that the government will act as a facilitator for onion imports to ease the process and ensure a quick and healthy supply from other countries.

To achieve this, the phytosanitary and fumigation requirements have been liberalised by the Agriculture Ministry.

The Indian missions in Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey and Iran have been asked to facilitate supply of onions to India.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Wednesday said that the government is taking steps to lower prices by creating a buffer stock of 56,700 tonnes of onion out of which 1,525 tonnes are available with NAFED at present, banning the export of onions so as to retain stock for domestic consumption and putting stock holding limit of 10 tonnes for retailers and 50 tonnes for wholesalers to ensure a constant and healthy supply in the market.

In the light of public concern over high prices of onions in the market, the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to allow relaxation from the condition of fumigation and endorsement on PSC as per the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for onion imports up to November 30.

The Agriculture Ministry said that conditions to be met are that such consignments of imported onions which arrive in Indian port without fumigation and endorsement to that effect on the PSC, would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider.

The consignment would be inspected thoroughly by quarantine officials and released only if found free from pests and diseases of concern to India.

The consignments of onions for consumption will not be subjected to the four times additional inspection fees on account of non-compliance of conditions of import under the PQ Order, 2003.