Brinjal @ 20 paisa: Driven to despair by being offered a meagre 20 paise per kilogram for his brinjal production, a farmer in Maharashtra destroyed the entire plantation on his land to save himself from incurring further losses.
Onion @ Re 1: An onion-grower from Maharashtra who had to sell his produce for little over Rs 1 per kg has sent his earnings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mark his protest. “I produced 750kg of onion in this season but was offered a rate of Re 1 per kg. Finally I could negotiate a deal for Rs 1.40 per kg and received Rs 1,064 for 750 kg,” he says.
Coriander @ Rs 2.5: In the wholesale markets of Karnal (Haryana) vegetables crops like spinach, radish and coriander are going for Rs 2 to 7 a kg. Since the state government’s crop MSP scheme is focussed on potatoes and tomatoes, these farmers have no option but to sell at those prices.
Tomato @ Rs 3: Tomato may be selling in Pune retail markets for Rs 20 a kg but prices in the wholesale market have fallen to Rs 3 to Rs 6. The reason: bumper crop and oversupply.
Why? Nearly 40% of all fresh food produced in India perishes before it can get to customers. A bumper crop and a lack of cold storage chain in some cases and the nature of the crop in others means the window for selling the produce is limited.
The reach of food processing, which can greatly increase the shelf life of veggies and fruits, is limited. India processes only about 2% of the fruit and vegetables it produces (35% of milk is processed) compared to the US (60%) or even smaller nations like Morocco (35%). For governments, instead of creating a viable value chain for wide range of fresh produce, the focus has been on staples like potato, tomato and onion.
Who: Fruits and vegetables are mostly grown by marginal and small farmers (having less than 2 hectare of land) and a crash in prices affects them the most. Though fruits and vegetables are grown in less than 10% of the country’s gross cropped area, horticulture production has overtaken that of food grains (grown on over 60% of the cropped area).
Meanwhile, PM Modi remembered farmers on campaign trail (in Rajasthan) — and Jawaharlal Nehru too. “He (Nehru) used to wear rose and had the knowledge of gardens but did not know about farmers or farming, due to which the community faced hardship,” Modi was quoted as saying without naming the first Prime Minister.