Onion prices crash in Madhya Pradesh
Under the scheme, the government pays farmers part of the difference between the average wholesale price and minimum support price (MSP) to cushion the farmers from huge financial losses.india Updated: May 19, 2018 23:15 IST
Onion prices dropped to a low of 30 paise per kilogram in some markets of Madhya Pradesh this week, showing up shortcoming in the state government’s much-touted Bhavantar scheme.
Under the scheme, the government pays farmers part of the difference between the average wholesale price and minimum support price (MSP) to cushion the farmers from huge financial losses. Last year, the farmers’ agitation in the state had started at the same time over the price of onions, which sold at the lowest price of 50 paisa per kilogram, eventually leading to police firing in Mandsaur that left six persons dead. In some Mandis of Rajgarh and Neemuch, the lowest price of onion was 30 paisa to 50 paisa per kg since farmers started selling onion under the Bhavantar scheme. The maximum price was reported to be Rs 5-Rs 6 per kg.
In the past two years, the state government purchased onion on MSP — first at Rs 6 per kg and then Rs 8 per kg — but this year it was brought under the Bhavantar scheme, under which the traders will purchase onion from farmers at mandis and the government will pay farmers the difference between the MSP and the average wholesale price. The MSP rate this year is again Rs 8 per kg.
Mandi secretary at Narsinghgarh in Rajgarh RK Jain said the price didn’t fall that much but admitted that Rs 1 per kg was the lowest price of ‘onion of poor quality’. Kedar Sirohi, a farmers’ leader from Harda, said Bhavantar had hit the farmers hard. Traders have joined hands to purchase onion at a throwaway price and convinced farmers that the government would pay them the difference between the MSP and sale price, he said. The fact is that farmers would get the difference between the MSP and average wholesale price, not sale price.
Tarun Baheti, a farmers leader in Neemuch, said a farmer, whom he identified as Shaukin Patidar, was being forced to sell onion at 50 paisa per kg on Friday despite the fact that his crop was of good quality. “When he requested Mandi president Rajkumar Tiwari to intervene he got Rs 1 per kg. But even with that price he was not able to recover even the transport cost he had born,” said Baheti. Mahesh Patidar, leader of the Patidar Samaj in Malwa region, said the average price of onion in the markets was Rs 1.50 to Rs 2 per kg. Traders who buy onion will store it and later sell at Rs 20-Rs 25 per kg, he said, adding that middlemen and traders stand to benefit the most.
Steep fall in prices of garlic and onion has given a shot in the arm to the Opposition, which has said it will raise issues of farmers in the run-up to state polls later this year. State Congress president Kamal Nath said, “Congress has been saying right from the beginning that Bhavantar scheme is meant for the benefit of BJP- supported traders, not farmers. But Shivraj (Singh Chouhan) government is not willing to listen. After garlic, price of onion has also fallen after being included in Bhavantar scheme.” State BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said the government included onion in Bhavantar to ensure the farmers didn’t suffer losses.