Notwithstanding Modi government’s claim of doubling farmers’ income, onion and potato producers are not even getting what they were getting five years ago. In fact they are getting almost half of what was the wholesale price of 2013 in Delhi Subzi Mandis—reveal an Agriculture Ministry report released recently on the production of onion and potato.
One look at the wholesale price of potato in Delhi mandis released by the Union Agriculture Ministry shows the poor state of potato and onion farmers. The average price of potato In Delhi Subzi Mandis from January to November in 2013 was Rs. 9.84 per kg, during the same period in 2017 it has come down to as low as Rs. 5.48 per kg—a reduction of 44% in wholesale price of the produce.
Situation is no better for onion farmers. While the wholesale average price of onion in Delhi from January to November in 2013 was Rs. 23.75 per kg, it came down to Rs. 12.09 per kg during the same period in 2017—more than 49 % decrease in wholesale price. All this is when the farmer’s input on onion and potato crop has increased considerably.
“This is the main tragedy of a farmer, this year we did not get what we were to pay to the cold storage. Most of the farmers preferred to abandon it. Potato farming is very unpredictable these days—forget profit a farmer is not getting return of his investment,” said Md Yasheen, a contract potato farmer from Sambhal. “Somehow, we manage to earn enough to pay the land owners, since we sow other cash crops as well. Next year, we will seriously think before taking this risk,” he said.
Similar is the story of Hafiz Faizaan, who gave up potato farming last year after incurring heavy losses. “Farming is no more remunerative, it is a gamble, if luck and market favours us we get some return, but most of the time, we are not getting what we invest in form of labour,” he said.
In 2017 Average wholesale potato price in Delhi was highest in the month of December at Rs 7.05 per Kg where at in 2014, the average wholesale price was highest at highest at Rs 24.05 in the month of October. “There is a variation of more than 300%, how would one make profit even if crop increases,” Hafiz Faizaan said who had quit potato farming after he incurred losses for consecutive two years.