B.V.S. Bhaskar

RAJAHMUNDRY: Is it true that onion farmers are not getting minimum support price and committing suicide? Yes, it has happened in the “rich” district like East Godavari. About five months back, one farmer from Durgada village of Gollaprolu mandal, which is known for its onions committed suicide. More and more onion farmers are complaining that they are not getting minimum support price. Failure of market mechanism and administrative lapses led to mismanagement and left the farmers in dismay.

Paddy may be the main crop in East Godavari, but Rajahmundry and Tadepalligudem of the two Godavari districts are the main markets for onions. Moreover, Gollaprolu mandal in the district is the main mandal in East Godavari where farmers grow onions in 500 hectares and each year the production will come up to 15,000 tonnes. But farmers are getting only Rs. 70 to Rs. 80 per tonne in the season (January to March). “In the last two years we are forced to sell at Rs. 40,” said Sakhinala Siva, farmer from Sakhinala village.

Investment wise, the farmers are investing Rs. 350 (after 50 per cent subsidy) for each bag of one kg seed from the Horticulture department. Most farmers in Gollaprolu, Tondangi, Seethanagaram and other mandals are tenants or leaseholders and they are doing the cultivation on debts. Sakhinala Manikyam (55) of Durgada village in Gollaprolu mandal committed suicide in February this year as he failed to get minimum support price for his onions.

Street fights

Rajahmundry Onion Market, the biggest in the State, is getting 15 to 20 lorries daily and sending 13 lorries to Orissa and only one or two are used in local Andhra markets. The price of the onions are Rs. 12 to Rs. 14 and Maharashtra variety is Rs. 14 to Rs.16 in retail market. In Rythu Bazars also, there are street fights as lorry loads are coming only on alternate days. “Gollaprolu onion should be brought to local market to fill the gap,” said Rama Rao of Consumer Forum.