Sunday, December 9, 2007

Onion prices and crying Farmers (Apathy in North Karnataka)

This story really touched me and fear that North Karnataka shouldn’t become another Vidarbha region, The Gowdas (term as Gowder gaddalla) brought instability to the state and then as I live in the middle east the onion now coming here from other countries is far from good quality , where as the onion from India where much better quality , but thanks to the nexus of politicians and bureaucrats at NAFED where the rampant corruption was exposed, and even though NAFED $100 was good price for these poor farmers to fetch some returns from hard earned yield, but these middle men at APMC sallow up all the bucks,
We should have a proper federal price control committee and regulated price export with inflation control supply in the country, I suppose these onions will make all hear far more cry in near future.

Onion price crash triggers suicide

Source Newindpress Monday December 10 2007

HUBLI: Mallikarjun, 38, was found lying on the ground, grimacing in pain, on the wintry morning of December 3.

He had just consumed half a litre of cypermethrin, an insecticide. A man known for his calm demeanour, Mallikarjun listened in silence when the villagers began to chastise him. But the heartbroken man could not hold it in any longer.

‘‘What do you know of my problems?,’’ he asked, and breathed his last. Mallikarjun, a farmer of Kabbenur in Dharwad, was hopeful of a good harvest for his onion produce. Manjula, his sister, recalls: ‘‘Despite Rs 4 lakh loans, he was optimistic about making money. ’’

Mallikarjun’s first attempt to sell his onions at the Hubli Agricultural Produce Market Corporation (APMC) ended in disaster. Armed with 120 quintals of onions in late October, a trader agreed to buy the produce for Rs 700 per quintal.

However, the agreement was not honoured and the produce was returned. By the time Mallikarjun could resell it, there was severe price crash, and he received only Rs 200 per quintal. With the export of onions banned, Mallikarjun’s, and thousands of other farmers’ last hope was the announcement of a Minimum Support Price (MSP) by the State Government.

But, as the political drama in the state unfolded in October and November, a MSP seemed increasingly unlikely. He ventured to Belgaum to sell another 80 quintals. His fortunes, however, did not improve in the new market and he settled for a price of Rs 250 per quintal.

But further tragedy struck on his way back as he went to Manjula’s house and on the way had lost the Rs 3000 he had made at Belgaum on the bus. She recalls: ‘‘He went straight to the bed and began to sob. ’’

Meanwhile, the Karnataka Grameena Vikas Bank, from where Mallikarjun had taken a loan of Rs 1.45 lakhs, sent a notice for repayment. Kallanagouda, his brother, said: ‘‘Apart from this, he also had to settle a bill of Rs 2 lakhs for labour work on the fields.’’

By now, Mallikarjuna had pinned all his hopes on getting a fair price at Bangalore. But the prices were still low. Mallikarjun was worried about the loan. Manjula said, ‘‘Luck had completely deserted him,” and two days later, he committed suicide.

His family blame it on the government’s failure to announce an MSP. In early October, when the prices of onion rose to Rs 30 per kg, the government decided to restrict exports to bring the price down.

The NAFED also raised the Minimum Export Price by $100. As a result, exports in November dropped by 72%. Bangladesh, traditionally the largest importer of onions, has imported only 320 tonnes this year, against 4.2 lakh tonnes in 2006-07.

Mudigoudra , a relative of Mallikarjun warns that this could be the beginning of a spate of suicides in the region. ‘‘There is a palpable sense of despair among the farmers,’’ he warns.

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