This is with reference to the editorial, “Fighting food inflation” (June 5). In the onion trade, farmers face several difficulties and receive minimum prices for their outputs. By the time onions reach the end-consumer, the price is double what the farmer is originally paid. The presence of middlemen is endemic and each transaction adds to the final cost. Neither the consumer nor the farmer benefits from this; only traders and retailers end up earning a huge chunk of profits. The media highlight only the highest rate — the rate that traders and retailers show consumers. Onions are perishable, and after some days start to spoil and rot. To avoid this, the government should create supply chains along with cold storage facilities and modern warehouses.
The editorial covers the multidimensional aspects of food inflation. A holistic approach is needed to control the increase in food prices. Officials of the State agriculture departments should ensure that farmers get reasonable and remunerative prices for their produce, while meeting the needs of consumers.
The high volatility of food prices either results in windfall incomes or distress sales at throwaway prices, making the agriculture profession a gamble. The increasing number of farmer suicides is an outcome of this uncertain situation. The Central government has to work in tandem with State governments to strictly implement measures to ensure stability in prices. Middlemen must not be allowed to take advantage of shortages arising from poor rainfall. The movement of foodgrains to distant destinations and the outdated methods used to stock foodgrains should be substituted with modern scientific practices. Giving an impetus to food processing industries and cold storage facilities is a must in order to achieve price stability. Suggestions from the Food Corporation of India and the agricultural universities will help us evolve efficient and economic supply chains.
M.V. Nagavender Rao,