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Rajasthan Govt. agrees to rescue onion farmers

Special Correspondent


Intervention to help the growers get better prices

Onion prices are at a rock bottom at present in the State


JAIPUR: The Rajasthan Government has conceded the demand of onion farmers for market intervention to help the growers get better prices. The onion prices are at a rock bottom right now with the produce reportedly selling in a range of Rs.150 to 500 per quintal. After Maharashtra, Rajasthan is a major producer of onion with the districts of Sikar, Nagaur, Jhunjhunu, Bhilwara and Jaipur accounting for most of the production.

The farmers in the Shekhawati region have been agitating over the low onion prices since March 4 when a seminar was held in Sikar on the issue. The agitating farmers, supported by the Kisan Sabha, laid siege to the Sikar Collectorate for two hours on two occasions. A delegation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led by MLA Amra Ram met Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at his residence on May 26 to ask for government intervention.

The announcement of the government move to buy onions from farmers now came on the eve of the scheduled protest by farmers -- to disrupt work at government offices in Sikar on Friday. The proposed protest now would assume the form of a victory procession in the mandi area in Sikar town.

“We have been told that the Government would buy the onion crop from farmers on the basis of bids and then distribute them through the Public Distribution System (PDS) outlets and milk booths,” said Mr. Amra Ram talking to The Hindu over phone from Sikar.

The State agency, Rajfed, would buy onions at market prices through bids – this is not the minimum support price for the commodity -- and later sell it in non-onion producing districts. “The onion farmers had two good years when the commodity fetched high returns. That had led to an increase of 10-15 per cent in the crop area this year,” Mr. Ram pointed out.

Mr. Ram was in Nagaur the other day leading a farmers' sit-in protest in Deedwana town against non-payment of crop insurance. That agitation was called off late at night after the authorities promised action against three officers who had allegedly manipulated the list of affected farmers.

Mr. Ram, who spoke to Mr.Gehlot on Thursday morning to thank him for the two decisions, said for the future more storage facilities could be built in the onion-producing districts with financial assistance of Rs.25,000 each to individual farmers from the government agencies.

Mr. Ram, also the State president of the Kisan Sabha, suggested commencement of onion export from Rajasthan.

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