Onion growers see red over price crash

Surplus production in neighbouring districts hits Davangere farmers hard

The prices have plummeted from Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per quintal to Rs 250 to Rs 400 at the APMC market in Jagalur, a major onion trading centre in the region, after Hubli. The crash in prices has come as a bolt from the blue for thousands of farmers in Jagalur and Harapanahalli taluks, already reeling under poor rains, which has affected the quality of onions produced.

The onion growers from Jagalur used to sell the vegetable in the markets in Mumbai, Kolkata and other places, by transporting the produce in trucks.

However, with the quality not being up to the mark, there are no takers for the onions now.

Sources told Deccan Herald that surplus production of onions in neighbouring Haveri, Gadag, Bagalkot districts and the vegetable flooding the market as a result was the main reason for the crash in prices. Purchasers from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Calcutta are not coming forward to purchase onions.

Meanwhile, the State government has declared Jagalur, Harapanahalli and Davangere taluks in the district as drought-hit and has taken up relief measures.

8,000 acres

Sources in the horticulture department said onions grown on more than 8,000 acres of land in Jagalur and Harapanahalli taluks, mostly in rain-fed areas. Some farmers depend on irrigation pumpsets for farming activities.

Most of the onion growers suffered huge losses when the onion crops they had sown dried up, due to scarcity of rains in the kharif season, a few months ago.

Some growers gave it another go in the rabi season. However, the crash in onion prices in the last few days has put paid to their efforts.

Suresh, an onion grower in Jagalur taluk, said his family of five members had decided to migrate to the city this year, so that he could search for another job.

A farmer who grows 60 quintals of onions within four months of sowing, can meet his family expenses only if he gets Rs 1,000 per quintal.

“If the purchasers and commission agents ask us to sell  onions for Rs 300 to 350 per quintal in the market, how can we meet our expenses on labour, fertilisers and others. A minimum of Rs 20,000 is spent on labour for one acre of land,” he said.

Storages units

Deputy Director of the Horticulture Department, Kadiregowda, said the setting up of storage units at their homes helps onion growers to store the product in a scientific way.  
Whenever the onion prices crash, the farmers can keep the product in the storage unit till the prices stabilise. Onions can be stored for at least two to three months in the storage unit. 

Recently, a team from the Bagalkot University of Horticulture Sciences had set up an onion storage unit for demonstration purpose at the APMC in Jagalur.

The Department of Horticulture provides financial aid to onion growers to set up such storage units with a capacity of 60 quintals, under the National Horticulture Mission and other schemes.

Meet to discuss MSP for onion

Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said that a meeting will be held in Bangalore on Monday to discuss minimum support price (MSP) for onion crop, reports DHNS from Hubli.

He told mediapersons here on Saturday that a sub-committee concerned would discuss the issue of onion price crash and the need for minimum support price.

“Though the issue of providing MSP for sugarcane does not come under the purview of the Government, we have written letters to all sugar factories to provide MSP of Rs 1,800 per tonne. It is even better if it is Rs 2,000,” he added.

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