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DGFT allows license-free import of potatoes from Bhutan to meet the supply gap

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The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Friday issued an order allowing unhindered import of Potatoes from Bhutan without any licence till January 31, 2021.

The country has been dealing with soaring prices of potato costing between INR 40 and INR 45 per kg across cities. The move comes with an aim to address the same. 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.

Earlier, the DGFT also laid out the procedure for import of potatoes under the tariff rate quota scheme.

The procedure states that 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.

Apart from potatoes, the government has also been importing onions and pulses to tide over the current problem of high prices.

Speaking on the same, Mr Goyal said, “The government will continue import of onion and pulses (urad and arhar).” He added that private players have imported 7,000 tonnes of onion and another 27,000 tonnes will reach by Diwali.

Furthermore, 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 informed that 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 that apart from the imports, the issue of high price of onions will be resolved by the arrival of new kharif onion crops in mandis from next month. 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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