The Centre on Monday banned the export of all varieties of onions with immediate effect in a bid to bridge the demand and supply gap of the vegetable in the domestic market, PTI reported. The ban, however, will not apply to onions exported in sliced or in powder form.

“The export of all varieties of onion…is prohibited with immediate effect,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification. The DGFT is an arm of the commerce ministry that deals with exports and imports-related issues.

The ban comes at a time when wholesale and retail price of onion in August fell 34.5% and 4% respectively, according to Mint. In Delhi, retail price of onion stood at Rs 40 per kg.

An unidentified official told The Economic Times that the decision was taken in view of the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact. “Rates have increased and there is shortage of onion in the domestic market,” the official added. “While this shortage is seasonal, a huge amount of exports were done in the last few months during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

India exported $198 million of onions between April and June in the financial year of 2020-’21 and $440 million in 2019-’20. Bangladesh, Malaysia, UAE and Sri Lanka are the top importers of Indian onions.