Agriculture

Chhattisgarh Farmers Give Away Produce for Free to Protest Low Prices

Representative image. Credit: Reuters

Representative image. Credit: Reuters

Raipur: In a bid to draw the government’s attention to the dramatic drop in prices of vegetables since the demonetisation move, about 300 farmers from four districts of Chattisgarh gave away 1,000 kg of vegetable produce for free on Monday.

According to Business Standard, farmers belonging to the Chhattisgarh Yuva Pragatisheel Kisan Sangh resorted to this unique form of protest in Raipur due to a lack of buyers for their produce which they believe has led to a dramatic fall in prices.

Dharmesh Kumar Tank, a farmer from Rajnandgaon district and a member of the farmers’ union, told Indian Express, “This year, the price a farmer is getting for his produce is abysmally low. For vegetables it is between Rs 25 and 40 a crate, which contains 27-28 kg of produce. The price does not even cover the farmer’s transport costs.”

The prices of several vegetables have slumped in both wholesale and open markets all over the state. According to the president of Chhattisgarh Yuva Pragatisheel Kisan Sangh, Hitesh Varu, who, according to the Hindustan Times insisted that the protest was not about demonetisation, said that large consignments of produce like tomato, capsicum, banana, chilly, cabbage and others were arriving constantly to markets from villages, triggering a drop in their price. “It’s a common phenomenon of every year,” he added. “But this year it has lasted for a long duration adding more trouble to the producers.”

Jayesh Varu, a member of the association claimed that a lack of transportation facilities has further added to their woes.

Earlier, not only were the tomatoes of Chhattisgarh exported to other parts of the country, but they were also exported to other nations. According to the Business Standard, this time, however, the vegetable could not be exported out of the state due to the lack of transportation.

The association, according to a PTI report, has raised several demands like waving off the outstanding electricity bill of farmers up to July, waving off interest on farm loan for the current crop season and setting up cold storage and processing units.

Besides this, the farmers have also demanded setting up of sugar plants in high vegetable cultivation areas so that producers can switch to sugar farming.

When asked if the note ban had a bearing on the prices of vegetables, state agriculture minister Brijmohan Agrawal, told Hindustan Times that there had been a slight impact initially and the situation would improve. He claimed that the vegetable markets did not see traders from outside the state, which resulted in the drop in prices.

“We have planned to set up cold storage units in different parts of the state and a multi-speciality cold storage here for farmers,” he said. “Besides, farmers are also being provided compact solar-powered cold storage on subsidy so that it can be easily accessed by them.

Disgruntled farmers last month had resorted to dumping tonnes of tomatoes on roads in Jashpur and Durg districts after getting fed up with the decline in prices of the fruit.

(With PTI inputs)