Cash transfers are fine, but low prices are the problem: Farmers -Jayanta Roy Chowdhury

-The New Indian Express

As low prices continue to plague millions of farms all over the country, farmers and their leaders say cash transfers are fine, but main issue is agricultural prices which make farming unremunerative.

NEW DELHI:
Ishwar Singh is a worried man. The furrows in his brow below his once white turban have deepened. He planted onions in his two-acre farm near Sonepat this winter and got what he believed was a bumper crop. That should have made him a happy man, but a bitter wrangle at the local Mandi over prices, which he feels are a “conspiracy”, has left him deeper in debt.  

“I had a good crop …. But when I took my produce to the Mandi I got just Rs 600 a quintal. That’s nothing …. I am losing Rs 8,000 per acre at this price. Something is very, very wrong in this setup,” said Singh.  Poll promises of a subsidy don’t interest him as he says “money in hand is believing, promises are neither here nor there.”

As low prices continue to plague millions of farms all over the country, farmers and their leaders say cash transfers are fine, but the main issue is agricultural prices which make farming unremunerative.

“The farming crisis has deepened. That is why farmer issues have come to focus in this election,” says Rakesh Tikait, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader and son of legendary farmers’ leader and BKU founder Mahendra Singh Tikait.  

“Both parties (BJP and Congress) are promising us doles, more sops. That is good. However, the main crux of our problem lies in pricing. Most Farmers now sell their grain below the Minimum Support Price and most crops have no price support system. Look at vegetable farmers. We sold their harvest below cost through most of this winter. How will we survive?”

The year-on-year consumer price index for fruits in March this year has shrunk by 5.88 per cent and for vegetables by 1.49 per cent, according to data released by the government recently. Onion prices in wholesale markets had contracted by 31.43  per cent in March year-on-year.

“The net effect of this price fall has been that middle and large farmers who can afford to do it, have been sowing less, preferring to retain fallow land rather than suffer losses as farm prices  remained low this year,” said Biswajit Dhar of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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The New Indian Express, 24 April, 2019, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/apr/24/cash-transfers-are-fine-but-low-prices-are-the-problem-farmers-1968299.html

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