Thursday, October 04, 2007

Onions, Tears and Blood

MS sent me this article today, about the various sides of the onion price hike. Not the best written article, but very moving nevertheless.

From the article:

When I had gone to cover the first onion farmers' suicide in rural Nashik, I was very directly questioned by a village boy, " you do go to the urban housewives to see their problems when onion prices go high then why don't you come to us when it falls to Rs1 per kg?" And I had no answer.

Some parts of the article reminded of the story of potato growers from Fast Food Nation here in the USA.

As per the law, [the farmers] have to bring the their the APMC's pay for weighing, grading, loading/unloading...and sell at the pre-managed auctions in the APMC's. The traders form a ring among themselves and decide that none of them is going to bid for more than a certain price...the farmers face an auction with a pre-determined bid price...thus the prices are made to fall. If you remember...for the past 3 seasons, the prices in the APMC's were kept as low as Rs 1.50 per kg but the retail prices were never below Rs 9 per kg.

And then this..

Also, the government gives subsidies to those farmers who build a facility to store onions...this costs nearly Rs2 lacs and hence only the rich afford to build this. More than 60 per cent of the onion farmers are small land owners and they simply can't afford. So even this time, the rich farmers who could store the summer crop are minting money today but still the 60 per cent of the farmers have not benefited.

The above sure reminds me of the US taxation system, where the rich employers get tax breaks in the name of fostering innovation and creating jobs.

I really wish I could do something about the situation

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