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Pakistani onion farmers and exporters are celebrating a windfall due to an unprecedented surge in exports over the past few months, an unlikely win at the cost of their counterparts across the border in India.

The South Asian nations, bitter rivals in myriad arenas, are also major onion producers. But India is also the world’s second-largest onion exporter after China, and is a dominant force in the global market for the vegetable, its produce often crowding out onions from smaller nations.

So, in December, when India imposed an export ban due to a decline in local onion production, ahead of national elections, Pakistani farmers and exporters jumped at what they recognised was a rare opportunity. In 2023, India exported nearly 2.5 million tonnes of onions. Suddenly the world onion market had a gap — one that Pakistan partly filled.

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