Andhra Pradesh

Onion farmers register first profit in four years

A farmer taking a nap on onion bags before the auction at the Kurnool market yard on Friday.

A farmer taking a nap on onion bags before the auction at the Kurnool market yard on Friday.   | Photo Credit: U. SUBRAMANYAM

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However, most of the gains will go towards paying off loans

B. Solomon, a tenant farmer growing onions, has finally started making profits this year after incurring losses for four years in a row.

While consumers are ruing the upward spiral in onion prices, farmers in Kurnool district are happy that they are earning decent returns in the last one month.

Mr. Solomon, who cultivates onion on a land of two acres, about 12 kilometres from Kurnool city, says that he can repay a big part of the loans that he had taken in the past four years with the profit he made this year.

“It takes about ₹60,000 to cultivate one acre of land per year. I took a loan of ₹4.80 lakh over four years to cultivate two acres of crops,” Mr. Solomon said.

“This year has been good and I have made a profit of ₹3 lakh. However, most of the profits would go towards clearing the loans,” Mr. Solomon said.

Speaking to The Hindu, Kurnool market yard secretary Jaya Lakshmi said that the highest price yielded for a quintal of onions was ₹7,000 on Friday. “On average, we have auctioned onions at ₹6,000 per quintal,” she said.

Explaining the sharp inflation in onion prices, Ms. Jaya Lakshmi said that onion crops failed in the rest of the States due to excessive rains this year.

“As a result, onions from Kurnool are being exported to Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu,” she said.

Another reason behind the price rise was lesser yield. “Two months ago, we were getting about 70 bags of onions per acre (each bag has about 50 kg of onions). Now, we are only getting about 17-20 bags of onions,” he said.

Mr. Solomon also blamed the crisis on restrictions imposed by the Centre on onion exports. “Apart from the lack of exports, the rains also hit us hard,” he said.

While there was an abundance of onions, a large number of crops were also damaged in rains in Kurnool. “For every 70 bags produced, we lost about 30 bags worth of onions,” Mr. Solomon said.

High input costs

Other farmers said that while the prices are high, input costs have also significantly gone up. “It now costs us ₹10,000 just for the labour per harvest. Apart from that, the prices of fertilizers and pesticide are also soaring, leaving us with little profits,” said B. Aiahanna.

He insisted that the government bring down input costs so that the farmer gets to see a profit. “This is the only work we know. Even when there are profits, we are still not seeing them,” Mr. Aiahanna said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 9:32:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/onion-farmers-register-first-profit-in-four-years/article30061041.ece

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