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Gloom in Rajasthan garlic belt as govt date for buying produce ends today

Five farmers have committed suicide in the region since April. Their families have alleged that the victims could not bear the quantum of losses.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Kota |
Updated: June 20, 2018 4:00:36 am
Gloom in Rajasthan garlic belt as govt date for buying produce ends today Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. (Express Photo: Anil Sharma)

Given low prices and increased production of garlic this year, farmers in Hadoti region of Rajasthan, comprising Bundi, Kota, Baran and Jhalawar districts, are looking at huge losses as the state government’s Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) ends on Wednesday.

Through the MIS, the government-run Rajasthan State Cooperative Marketing Federation Ltd (RAJFED) is buying garlic from them at Rs 3,257 per quintal.

On the sprawling grounds of Bhamashah Krishi Upaj Mandi in Kota, farmers told The Indian Express on Tuesday, the penultimate day of the procurement scheme, that they were trying to cut some of the losses by selling their produce through MIS.

It is unlikely that many will get a chance.

R R Meena, 64, of Koradi village in Kota district, showed the receipt of registration provided by the state Cooperative department. “Given that tomorrow is the last date, it is unlikely that my turn will come any time soon. I had registered on May 3 and have since then made numerous rounds of the market. But I have not got a message about when my turn will come,” he said.

According to RAJFED data, 64,755 farmers from Hadoti region had registered with it to sell their garlic produce until June 18. The federation could allot dates for sale to only 13,880. Of these, 12,146 could sell their produce to RAJFED until Monday. Purchase under MIS had begun on April 13.

Meena said, “I had raised Rs 5 lakh through Kisan Credit Card to grow 40 quintals on 4 bighas. I expected at least Rs 3,000 per quintal but given the drop in prices, I am forced to sell (outside) at prices as low as Rs 1,100 per quintal.”

Pushp Kant, a farmer from Baran, said, “I sold a large chunk of my garlic produce of 84 quintals at Rs 300 per quintal (in private market). I have little hope of selling under the MIS. After spending at least Rs 15,000 on each bigha of cultivated land (each bigha cultivates approximately 10 quintals), what does a farmer do if he loses more than Rs 1,200 on each quintal? After that, is it really surprising that people are committing suicide?”

Five farmers have committed suicide in the region since April. Their families have alleged that the victims could not bear the quantum of losses.

Brijmohan Kirad, of Kothdi village in Kota, said, “I had registered with RAJFED on April 27. I come here almost every day, hoping that my turn will come.”

It did not — as of Tuesday evening.

Traditionally cultivators of wheat and mustard, farmers of Hadoti cite excessive profits a couple of years ago to explain the move towards growing garlic.

Abhay Kumar, Principal Secretary, state Cooperative Department, said: “The difference between garlic and other produce is that for others there are warehouses. But there’s no such system for garlic…(so) we have to get rid of the purchase within a very short time.”

Kumar said the department is trying to increase the pace of garlic procurement.

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