Monday, May 20, 2024

Throwing Potato or other produce on road is a solution for Indian agriculture and farmer ?

Every year we get some news from various parts of country that farmers are throwing agriculture commodities of road. It is embarrassing that farmers produces a commodity after a lot of hard work, investment of time, money and farm inputs; after production he has not option except throwing commodity on road. Every year we read such news like burning sugarcane, throwing milk, crushing tomato, throwing potato, throwing onions, throwing vegetables. 

There are two major problem behind it first unplanned cultivation and poor market price due to peak arrival. Generally, these incidents happen in perishable items, where self-life is very short in open climate conditions. Farmers start cultivation of a common commodity/ crop by seeing his/her neighbor. When climatic conditions are in favor and everything goes well then crop fruit very well and at the time of harvesting it becomes hard to find buyer.  Due to poor warehousing and storage condition it becomes hard to store the commodity for longer times. He has period of three – four months to action even the govt has time to act. When things go out of control then farmer start throwing and govt starts to buy produce for throwing.

Last year in Madhya Pradesh farmers were throwing onions then govt purchased onion from farmers and stored where ever they find place to put like railway stations, schools, mandi yard. After 20-25 days onions started to decompose and there was bad odor /smell everywhere. It was hard to stand near such places where onion was laying and ultimately that onions had decompose/ thrown. 

During the period of cultivation govt / farmer may act as per position of estimated production. Farmer must develop some infrastructure for himself at his farm so that he don’t need to run to nearest market just after production. At the same time govt must develop some temporary infrastructure where estimated production can be stored this infrastructure can be used also used by buyer/traders.  Govt purchased onion at the rate of Rs 6/Kg and govt had to bury / destroy the onion of Rs 600 crore. This Rs 600 crore was sufficient to develop of storage facilities. After 4-5 months onions was sold in market at the price of Rs 50/Kg due to this loss.

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The same thing was happened in Haryana last year. Farmers throw tomato on road after bumper production.  Onion can be dried, potato can be dried, and tomato can be processed in sauce. But due to lack of complete understanding of supply chain, whole produce was destroyed.

Govt assists for one step but don’t act for next step. It was ok for procurement of Onion but after that there was no planning and complete wastage of public fund. Another example is potato of UP. Last year there was bumper production of potato. Govt assisted traders in construction of cold stores for potato. Everything was working fine farmers stored their potato in cold store. After one-year next crop arrived in market due to poor price it was not economic for farmers to pick potato from cold stores and cold stores thrown potatoes on road when rent of cold stores were higher than cost of potato stored in ware houses.

Third example if pulses. Govt procured pulses from market for store to control inflation. There was not pulses in market and prices of most of pulses reached around Rs 100/Kg. After that costly pulses were imported from foreign countries. This year market is fully saturated with and now pulses are being sold below the MSP in local market. Most of pulses are being sold below 10-20 % of MSP in agriculture markets.

In both the cased complete supply was not ensured. Govt acted in pressured and forgot the next step. In the case of onion if govt has invested another Rs 100 crore then onion of Rs 600 could have been saved and consumer would not have to buy onion at Rs 50/Kg. in another case if UP Govt has focused on processing of potato before arrival of new crop then farmers would not have thrown potato on road. 

Instead of focusing only on storage or only infrastructure or only processing, govt must work on complete value chain from production to consumption. Govt must come with long term policy on promotion of processed food consumption in India. Industry needs a long-term incentive and promotion. India is a country with large population, so consumption is not a big problem. Only problem is how can food reach to consumer in consumable form from producer to end costumer.

At lower side instead of throwing on road farmers / traders should throw in farm so that it can convert into manure and land can become rich in organic manure. Throwing on road is not a last solution.


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