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India’s Onion Crisis Hits Sri Lanka

October 28, 1998

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ India’s onion crisis has spilled over to neighboring Sri Lanka, pushing up prices and forcing the government to look to other countries for supplies.

Sri Lanka imports about 10,000 tons of onions each month from India. Heavy rains destroyed crops in India’s ``onion bowl″ state of Maharashtra, which accounts for about 27 percent of the country’s annual production.

``After being convinced that India will not be able to give us any onions, we are looking at markets in Holland, Iran, Pakistan and even Iraq,″ Anthony Ratnayake, a trade official at Sri Lanka’s state-run Cooperative Wholesale Establishment, said Tuesday.

``It looks like we will have to do with non-Indian onions. It is painful, but we have no option,″ Ratnayake told The Associated Press.

The Indian onions still available on Sri Lankan market shelves are now fetching high prices _ 2 pounds costing about $1, or double the normal price. Sri Lankan gourmets insist on Indian onions, saying they are more pungent and tasty than locally grown onions.

India is facing the worst onion shortage in decades with prices jumping up to 600 percent.

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