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India to get potatoes from Bhutan to meet supply gap, calm prices | India News

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NEW DELHI: India is looking at Bhutan to help alleviate shortage of potatoes. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Friday issued an order allowing unhindered import of this key kitchen item from the tiny Himalayan nation without any licence till January 31, 2021.
Potato prices have been hovering between Rs 40 and Rs 45 per kg across cities. The government move is aimed at addressing this concern quickly. Union food and consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal told reporters that 30,000 tonnes of potatoes will arrive from Bhutan in the next few days.
In another public notice, the DGFT also laid out the procedure for import of potatoes under the tariff rate quota scheme. According to the procedure, only one application against one import-export code will be considered and successful applicants will have to ensure that the import consignment reaches the Indian ports on or before January 31 next year. A total of 10 lakh tonnes is allowed for import.
Earlier in the day, Goyal indicated that the government will continue import of onion and pulses (urad and arhar) as well to tide over the current problem of high prices. Private players have imported 7,000 tonnes of onion and another 27,000 tonnes will reach by Diwali, he said.
The government is also likely to extend the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mozambique to import 2 lakh tonnes of arhar per annum for the next five years. Another fresh MoU is likely to be signed with Myanmar to import 2 lakh tonnes of urad per year for the next five years.
The minister said there will be enough supply of onions in the market as the government cooperative Nafed will also invite bids from private parties to import the commodity. He said the government is following the “twin track” policy of increasing production as well as import to meet the shortage.
Goyal said along with imports, arrival of new kharif onion crops in mandis from next month will improve supply which will reduce prices. The government has pegged kharif and later kharif onion output lower by 6 lakh tonnes to 37 lakh tonnes in the current year.
The minister said retail prices of onion, potato and some of the pulses had increased, but for the last few days, prices have been stable after the government took proactive measures, including ban on export of onion and making the process for import easier for private players.
He also added that to ensure smooth domestic supply of pulses, the government has extended the time-limit for import of 4 lakh tonnes of arhar dal till December and licences have been issued for import of 1.5 lakh tonnes of urad. The import duty of 10% on masoor will continue till December-end as well.

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