To meet the shortage of potatoes that the country is facing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, India is said to import it from the ‘Land of Thunder Dragon’- Bhutan. On Friday, DGFT—Directorate General of Foreign Trade, issued an order allowing unhindered import of potatoes from Bhutan without any license till January 31, 2021.
The price of this key kitchen ingredient has been hovering between Rs 40-45 per kg across the cities. It is said that this move by the government of India is to address this concern. Piyush Goyal—Union Minister of Food and Consumer affairs told media persons that 30,000 tonnes of potatoes will arrive in the next few days from Bhutan.
Additionally, the DGFT in another public notice laid down the procedures for the potato import under the tariff rate quota scheme. Only one application against one import-export code will be considered, stated the procedure. Moreover, successful applicants will also have to ensure that the import consignment reaches the Indian ports on or before January 31, 2021. According to the procedure, a total of 10 lakh tonnes is allowed for import.
The minister also indicated that the government will continue the import of onion and pulses—urad and arhar, as well to tide over the ongoing problem of high prices. He added that private players have already imported 7,000 tonnes of onion and another 27,000 tonnes will reach India by Diwali. He also said that there will be enough supply of onions in the market. This is because government cooperative Nafed will invite bids from private parties to import the commodity. Goyal said that GOI is following the “twin-track” policy of increasing production as well as import to meet the shortage.
Also, along with the imports, Goyal said about the arrival of new Kharif onion crops in mandis from next month. This will improve the supply, thereby reducing prices he said. In the current year alone, GOI has pegged Kharif and later Kharif onion output lower by six lakh tonnes to 37 lakh tonnes.
The government’s proactive measures to ban the export of onion and making the process for import easier for private players have kept the retail prices of onion, potato, and some of the pulses stable, Goyal added.