Won’t Vote for BJP: Farmers in Maharashtra, U.P. Say Govt Turned Blind Eye to Their Problems
“Expecting Achhe Din, as promised by Modi, we voted for BJP. But now we are going through the worst phase.”
Significant drops in the prices of onions and potatoes in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have, reportedly, triggered the ire of farmers in these two states against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to a News18 report, farmers are upset that the Narendra Modi-led government is not doing enough to help support their income. In Maharashtra, onion farmers are being forced to sell onions for as low as Re one per kilogram even as their production costs hover at about Rs eight per kilogram. The News18 report states that onion prices (at the farm level) have dropped by as much as 83 per cent on account of last year’s surplus produce and weakened demands from Middle-eastern and Southeast Asian countries.
In addition to these problems, farmers are also voicing their complaint against the BJP government — both at the Centre and in Maharashtra — for turning a blind eye to their problems. Namely, that of not being able to fix a “price protection programme”, and not establishing adequate food processing and cold storage facilities to enable them to hold off on selling immediately after harvest.
Madhav Pawase an onion farmer from Maharashtra said he would not be voting for the BJP in the upcoming general assembly elections in 2019, “Expecting Achhe Din, as promised by Modi, we voted for the BJP, but now we are going through the worst phase.” Giving an estimate of the losses he had had to incur while producing the onion crop, Pawase mentioned, “I’ve spent more than Rs 80,000 to produce 15 tonnes of onions from my two acres of land, but I won’t recover more than Rs 3,000 at the current market price.”
The report also cited that some farmers in Maharashtra were opting to let their onions rot in their fields in order to save on their transportation costs to the wholesale depots.
From Onions to Potatoes
In Muhajidpur, Uttar Pradesh, potato prices have fallen down by around 86 per cent and now cost around Rs 2,500 per ton. According to 55-year-old farmer Gopi Chand, “I lost my entire investment of 100,000 rupees to grow potatoes on one hectare.”
Farmers in UP state that increasing operational costs — one of which is an increase in the crop nutrients’ costs — have also contributed to their losses, along with low prices for their potato produce. The reason for the increase in crop nutrients’ costs is the weakened state of the rupee against the dollar. Babloo Singh, another farmer from Mujahidpur, stated that the cost of crop nutrient diammonium phosphate’s (DAP) had increased from Rs 400 to Rs 1,450 for 50 kilograms.
While these add to the farmers’ woes, the reduced prices do not help the eventual consumer either, for the products pass through as many as four levels of middle-men before they are sold in the buyers’ market, where consumers end up paying a hefty price to avail them.