Crashing garlic prices cause discontent among MP farmers

Garlic farmers in Madhya Pradesh are saying that they are being forced to throw away the produce instead of selling it due to a sharp plunge in wholesale prices to as low as Re 1 per kg.

Some blame the crash in prices to "a bumper crop" this season, coupled with limited buying interest from traders due to lack of liquid money available with them.

The agitated farmers in Malwa, the largest garlic producing region in the state where assembly polls are due later this year, are also blaming demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) for their plight. 

They protested at the Shamgarh vegetable market in the neighbouring Mandsaur district on Sunday over the plunging prices of garlic.

"The garlic producing farmers are unable to recover their input costs and therefore, they prefer to throw it away than sell it at the prevailing low rates of Re 1 to Rs 5 per kg," a cultivator from Darukheda village, Suryabhan Singh Bana, said on Monday.

The transportation costs and other expenses are making it unviable to sell the produce in mandis, farmers said.

According to sources, the garlic crop commanded a rate of Rs 50-80 per kg in the Neemuch vegetable market in January this year, but prices have been on a downward trend since then. In January last year the rate was Rs 30-50 per kg, while in November-December it was Rs 5-20 per kg.

"Though the state government has inducted the garlic crop under the direct benefit transfer scheme, 'Bhavantar', farmers are not getting adequate price for their produce which has resulted in resentment," Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sabha chairman Jasvinder Singh said.

He demanded that the government provide a minimum support price (MSP) for the entire crop produced by a farmer so that they get their due for their hard work.

Bana said when he came to the Neemuch vegetable market on Sunday to sell his "bumper garlic crop", he got just Rs 2 per kg for his produce, while on May 4 the garlic fetched a mere Re 1 per kg at the Shamgarh mandi in Mandsaur.

"I don't have an option except to throw it (garlic crop) away," Bana said.

A garlic trader in Neemuch, S Choudhry, blamed the "economic slowdown because of GST and demonetisation" for the present crisis.

When traders do not have money to buy a crop and there is a bumper production, the prices are bound to fall, he said.

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