Onion growers' tears cost govt a fortune

Onion growers' tears cost govt a fortune

Farmers get help, but State ends up losing Rs 20 crore

Purchasing onion from farmers in the district has left the government poorer by nearly Rs 20 crore.

While it spent Rs 21.55 crore (including support price for farmers who supplied 2.8 lakh quintals of the vegetable and other charges), all that it got in return is Rs 1.5 crore.

While the government’s gesture helped onion farmers facing a crisis, it ended up suffering losses. The government had opened onion purchase centres in Gadag, Hubli, Koppal and Bagalkot in the backdrop of the drought and a crash in the prices of onion, with the highest quantity of onions being purchased at the two centres in Gadag. 

The onion brought by the farmers was segregated into three grades with 1,71,502 quintals of grade I, 67,264 quintals of grade II and 42,659 quintals of grade III (a total of 2,81,426 quintals) being purchased by the district administration. It sold 34,053 quintals of grade I, 2,858 quintals of grade II and 3,797 quintals of grade III to outside states.

Similarly, onion was supplied from the district to Bangalore, Mysore and other districts, besides within Gadag itself.

Lakhs of quintals of the bulbs rotted resulting in further losses to the exchequer. The rest of the quantity purchased was supplied to hostels, for mid-day meal programme in schools and fair price shops.

The total quantity thus sold or distributed by the district administration amounted to 1,56,940 quintals and it raked in only Rs 1.32 crore. Additional Deputy Commissioner P T Rudregowda said a maximum of Rs 25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh may be the dues that the government may recover.

On the other hand, outstanding dues to the onion farmers stand at Rs 18.33 crore. There are other pending payments like transportation cess and labour charges. All these amount to Rs 21.55 crore.

The government has so far remitted Rs 12.5 crore to the district administration, towards paying the dues. Of this amount, Rs nine crore will be distributed to the farmers beginning Wednesday, the district administration has announced.