Relaxation of Fumigation Norms on Import of Onions | 07 Nov 2019

Why in News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has allowed the relaxation of fumigation norms for the import of onions for a limited time period.

  • The liberalized fumigation norms will facilitate private import of onions from Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. It will help to boost the availability and check price rise of onions.
  • The norms will also provide relaxation from the endorsement on the Phytosanitary Certificate (PSC) as per the Plant Quarantine Order, 2003 for onion imports.
  • The imported onions which arrive at Indian ports without fumigation and endorsement to that effect on the PSC would be fumigated in India by the importer through an accredited treatment provider.
  • On a regular basis, imported onions are allowed in the country only after the commodity is fumigated and certified by the exporting nation.
    • Importers are subjected to four times additional inspection fees on account of non-compliance.
    • However, current consignments of onions under liberalized norms will not be penalised for non-compliance.


  • Fumigation is a pest control method that involves filling the airspace within a structure with toxic gas. Eg. Methyl Bromide, Phosphine, etc.
    • Methyl bromide is forbidden in developed nations, and its use was restricted by the Montreal Protocol due to its role in ozone depletion.
  • It is mainly used to control pests in storage buildings (structural fumigation), soil, and grains.
  • It is also used during processing of goods to be imported or exported to prevent transfer of exotic organisms.
  • It is seen as the most effective way to kill all pests, insects, and nematodes.

Phytosanitary Certificate

  • Phytosanitary certificates are issued to indicate that consignments of plants, plant products meet specified phytosanitary import requirements under International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), 1951.
    • Phytosanitary measures are aimed at the protection of human, animal and plant health from diseases, pests, and contaminants.
  • Usually, PSCs are generated by the exporting country.
  • It can only be issued by an authorized officer from a government department that is authorized by a National Plant Protection Agency (NPPO).
    • NPPO is in force to protect the threat of spreading pests, contamination or diseases into the country of import.

Plant Quarantine Order, 2003

  • It ensures the import of pest and fungus free agricultural commodities in the country which is or may be destructive to crops.
  • Plant quarantine is a technique that ensures disease- and pest-free plants.
    • During the process, a plant is isolated while tests are performed to detect the presence of a problem

Source: PIB