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Gujarat’s onion farmers in tears as prices plunge


Dharmendra Narshi Patel, a farmer from Kotda Sangani village in Rajkot district had tears in his eyes when he sold 3,590 kg of onion at the Agri Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) in Gondal on Christmas Day. For his entire lot of the vegetable fetched him only ₹1,974.50, or ₹0.55 per kg.

Mr. Patel is not alone as thousands of garlic and onion farmers in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region find themselves in deep distress because of the steep drop in the prices of their produce. Gujarat is one of the top producers of garlic and onion with extensive sowing in Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Amreli, Junagadh, and Kutch districts.

“We are forced to sell garlic from ₹20 to ₹80 per 20 kg in APMCs,” said Premjibhai Senjalia, a farmer from Rabarika village in Amreli district. “Average price is about ₹50-70 per 20 kg, that means ₹250 to ₹350 per quintal.”

Due to the extremely low prices, Mr. Senjalia said he was yet to sell the approximately 50 quintals of garlic lying harvested in his house. “I had garlic in 10 bigha land and production is about 50 quintal. I have stocked it because there is no one willing to buy thanks to lower prices,” he said, adding that thousands of farmers in his district had also held back on selling their harvests.

In most APMCs in the State such as the ones at Rajkot, Gondal, Mahuva and Jamnagar the prices of both the commodities have been hovering below ₹100 per 20 kg, pushing farmers into distress as they sell at a loss.

“Across the region, garlic and onion growers are selling at a loss,” said Virji Thummar, a Congress legislator from Amreli district. “They don’t even realise their basic costs of labour and inputs,” he added.

Bhikhabhai Markana, a farmer from Kalavad in Jamnagar district, harvested about 40 quintal of onion from his 2 bighas. He sold 23 quintals at the Rajkot AMPC at ₹40 per 20 kg, fetching him ₹200 per quintal.

“My cost including labour, inputs like seed, fertiliser and irrigation is ₹12,000 for the two bighas of onion and I would sell the produce for about ₹8,000-10,000 at current market price,” he said, reflecting the plight of the region’s farmers.

Sacks of unsold garlic

Balubhai Ahir, a garlic grower from Khirsara village in Rajkot district, told The Hindu that more than two lakh sacks of garlic were lying in farmers’ houses in about a dozen villages in Jetpur taluka.

“Not many farmers have sold the stock because of low price, they are not getting even peanuts,” said Mr. Ahir. “Average cost to grow garlic is ₹12,000 per bigha during its four-and-a-half month crop cycle and average yield is 7-8 quintal. If sold at current price of ₹70-80 per 20 kg...a farmer would realise about ₹2,500-3,200 per bigha, a loss of at least ₹8,000-9,000 per bigha.”

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:07:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarats-onion-farmers-in-tears-as-prices-plunge/article25853403.ece

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