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Updated: October 26, 2013 04:21 IST

Rose onion farmers in distress as prices crash

Vishwa Kundapura
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Rose onion at the market.
Special Arrangement Rose onion at the market.

Prices slump to Rs. 600 for a 50 kg bag from Rs. 1,750 last year

Even as consumers are finding it difficult to buy onion in the wake of the rise in prices, and while onion growers are reaping a profit, cultivators of rose onion in Kolar, Chickballapur and Bangalore Rural districts seem to have been left in the lurch as prices have crashed. Rose onion is primarily an export crop. The produce is not used in the State or elsewhere in the country.

It is exported to Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Besides the lack of a regulatory authority, monopoly traders have been mainly blamed for the crisis following the crash in the prices of rose onion. Farmers obtain seeds for cultivation from these traders who then purchase the harvest. The growers do not know where the produce goes to, farmers’ leader P.R. Suryanarayan said here on Thursday. Rose onion, called “gulabi eerulli” locally, which is small in size, is a water-intense crop. The area under rose onion in the undivided Kolar district came down steeply during the last decade due to acute shortage of water. Rose onion is grown in Kolar taluk in Kolar district and Chickballapur, Chintamani, Sidlaghatta taluks in Chickballapur district and in parts of Bangalore Rural district. Rose onion fetched Rs. 1,750 to Rs. 2,200 for a 50 kg bag last year.

However, the prices slumped to Rs. 600 to Rs. 700 this time causing loss to farmers. A sum of Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 70,000 is required for cultivation of rose onion in one acre of land, said Reddappa K.P. of Kurumakanahalli in Srinivaspur taluk. “The rates we are getting now is meagre when the cost of production is taken into account,” said Mr. Reddappa. Rose onion is not transacted at the APMC yard. Hence, there is no control over prices, Mr. Suryanarayan said.

It is estimated that farmers will suffer a loss of Rs. 70 crore to Rs. 80 crore on account of price crash, KPRS State vice-president G.C. Bayya Reddy told The Hindu over telephone from Bangalore.

In Chickballapur district, 2,000 tonnes of onion valued at Rs. 30 crore to Rs. 40 crore was ready for marketing, he added.

Farmers criticised the government for remaining silent and urged it to intervene and announce a support price for the produce.

“The matter has been taken up with Minister of State for Agriculture C. Krishna Byre Gowda and officials of the departments concerned,” Mr. Bayya Reddy said.

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