Bhopal: ‘Storage capacity could have been built from money spent on buying onions’

Bhopal: Had the government acted in a planned manner, the huge amount of money spent on buying onions could have been used for building storage and other facilities for farm produce. That would have ensured that the procured onions were not spoilt. This was stated by agriculture experts at the first meeting of Agriculture Task Force here on Thursday.

It was suggested that instead of mega units, the government should concentrate on establishing small food processing units in the state. The experts said the government should draw a long-term policy to ensure that farmers got remunerative prices for their produce.

The meeting also discussed the proposal to pay the difference between the input cost and the market price of the crops to the farmers. The experts said such a scheme should be designed with great care. The market price should be determined with caution from a neutral place so that there are no irregularities.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told the meeting that the rise in agriculture production and productivity had brought with it the problem of declining prices. He said until a long-term remedy to deal with the problem was in place, the policy of buying farm produce on MSP would continue.

He said to ensure that farmers got the maximum-possible price for their produce, storage capacity in the state would be enhanced, more processing units would be setup, prices protected and efforts would be made to benefit farmers by giving them access to the global market.

He said cold chain would be put in place in the state for vegetables and fruits. High-quality agri-products of the state like the potato of Malwa, Sherbati wheat, Tuar dal and onions would be marketed in a better way.

Agriculture expert Ashok Gulati said an Operation Veggie should be launched on the lines of Operation Flood launched in Gujarat. Punjab Singh said safety and proper storage of farm produce should be ensured. He said food processing industry could generate jobs for unemployed rural youth.

Prashant Agarwal said arrangements for storage of vegetables should be made at the village level and there should be arrangements at the district level for training of farmers.

Unanimous in  opposing loan waiver

All the experts were unanimous in their view that farm loan waiver would be of no use for farmers. Chouhan sought to know from the experts whether waiver of loans would solve the problems of farmers. The experts said instead of loan waiver, the government should try to ensure that farmers got the right price for their produce.

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