Bhopal: Minimum Support Price takes toll on onion price in local market

Bhopal: The decision of Madhya Pradesh state government to buy onions from state’s farmers at a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 8 has already taken a toll on the prices of onions in the market with many of vegetable shop owners selling it at Rs 20 per kg to Rs 20 per 1.25 kg on Thursday in Bhopal.

On Monday amid agitation by the farmers against the low prices of vegetables and other grocery items, the state government led by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had announced that it would by onions from the farmers who are not getting enough profit as the crop is in abundance this year. Last year too, the farmers in the state agitated against the low prices of onions in the market and had dumped their yield to rot on roads and nullahs. In 2016, the state government spent about Rs 100 crore in buying onions from the farmers at Rs 6 per kg and then storing them in warehouses. After Monday’s decision, the estimated amount to be spent by the government to buy onions from the farmers would be about Rs 150 crore.

The steep rise in retail price of onion in the markets of Bhopal has been majorly fuelled by a significant upsurge in the price of the crops in the wholesale market popularly known as mandis.

The price of onion in the mandi was Rs 3-4 per kg, but on Wednesday morning it shot up to Rs 8-10 per kg. This is because the government has announced that it would buy the produce from the farmers at a supporting price of Rs 8 per kg,” said a vegetable handcart owner, Sumilal while speaking to Free Press adding that the rise in mandi price has resulted a rise in the retail price from Rs 10 per kg to Rs 20 per kg in a single day.

Another vegetable shop owner, Ramesh Malad having his shop at New Market area, said that the buying of onions by the government would have no impact on the onion prices.

“It would be just a waste of public money and nothing else. Last year also the onion produce bought by the government went to waste as more than half of it was rotted. This year too it would be rotted because the produce in the Mandis this year is in abundance. Nobody is ready to buy it because the supply this year is more than the demand,” said Malad who was selling onion at Rs 20 per 1.25 kg.

Every year, the onion from Nashik in Maharashtra which is famous as the centre of onion production in the state didn’t reach the markets of the state because the produce in the state was only more than enough causing a nosedive in the prices of the vegetable.

“At present a 50 kg sack of onion in the mandis is available between Rs 200-400. Most of the people have already bought the sacks and the people who buy daily would not be much affected bu the price rise because they don’t buy more than 250 gm,” said another vegetable owner who didn’t want to disclose his name.

While speaking to Free Press, vegetable buyers had mixed opinion on the overnight rise in the prices of onions.

“It was really unfair for the farmers as they were not able to get back even their production cost, leave aside gaining profit. The problem is that the middlemen used to eat all the profit in the past and is eating that now also, depriving the farmers from a single penny of profit. Hope the government’s decision would provide some help to the farmers,” said Ashish Singh who was buying vegetables from New Market area.

Some also suggested that the government after buying the onions should not sell them at subsidised prices to the public.

“The government should now set up control price shops and sell the onion at a subsidised price. Much of the onion bought by government would definitely go to waste because they don’t have much storage capacity, so they should sell it at subsidised price,” said Vimal Sharma while speaking to Free Press.

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