The decision to increase onion MEP to USD 700 per tonne from USD 425 is taken as prices of onions at both wholesale and retail levels have been rising on lower output due to unseasonal rains earlier.

"To increase availability in domestic market, it has been decided to raise minimum export price (MEP) of onions further to USD 700 per tonne," said the Consumer Affairs Ministry in a statement.

The government is keeping a close watch on onion prices and has floated a tender for import of 10,000 tonnes of onions, which will be opened on August 27, it added. MEP is the rate below which no exports are allowed. The rise in MEP restricts exports and improves domestic supply.

Onion prices have risen unabated in the past few weeks. Wholesale onion prices today touched Rs 57/kg at Lasalgaon in Maharashtra, Asia's biggest edible bulb market, which could further spike retail prices in coming days. The export price was last raised to USD 425 per tonne from USD 250 on June 26, it added.

The Consumer Affairs Secretary will on August 24 take stock of the situation with agencies SFAC, NAFED, MMTC and the Delhi government. "Prices of onions have been rising on account of a decline in total production from 189.23 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 as against 194.02 lakh tonnes in 2013-14 i.e. a decrease of 4.79 lakh tonnes," the statement added.

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