73 per cent onion procured last year rotted in Madhya Pradesh

By Times Of India on 30 Jul 2017 | read
BHOPAL: Of the 10.4 lakh quintal onion procured last year, a whopping 73% - 7.6 lakh quintal - was rotten and could not be sold. To add to this, the state government spent Rs 2.88 crore to destroy these rotten onions.

This shocker was revealed in a written reply by the government to Congress MLA Shailendra Patel's question in assembly. If that was last year's experience, it puts a question mark on onion procurement this year, where pictures of mounds of rotting onions being shoved into trenches by earth-moving machines or dumped by highways have gone viral.

Patel, the MLA from Icchawar, said: "I wanted to know the truth behind onion procurement and was shocked by the reply. It clearly reflects that the entire exercise of onion procurement. was to benefit traders and middlemen in the name of farmers," he said.

With onion prices crashing to Re 1/kg last year, farmers were left with no option but to sell their produce at throwaway prices. When farmer resentment grew, the government stepped in and amid media glare announced in June that it would buy onions from farmers at Rs 6/kg. The initiative got overwhelming response from farmers, who queued up at the 64 procurement centres across MP.

The government bought 10.4 lakh quintal onion for Rs 109 crore but three quarters of it got spoiled, says co-operatives minister Vishwas Sarang's reply. Giving a break-up of the expenses, he said Rs 62 crore was spent on payments to farmers, and Rs 47 crore on "other expenses", which included maintenance of rotten onions (Rs 2.88 crore) and payment of interest against the amount used for onion procurement (Rs 40 lakh). "It would have been better if farmers were provided monetary assistance instead. Only 42 per cent of the Rs 109 crore was payment to farmers. The rest was spent on storage, transportation etc. Why didn't the government learn lessons from last year and start procurement in early May instead of waiting for monsoon.