Are we Having an Onion Crisis?

Agriculture City National State Topstory

Fluctuations in the price of PM Modi’s ‘TOP’ cause problems to the citizens.

Karnataka has been facing large fluctuations in the price of onions, potatoes, and tomatoes, for the past several months, items included in the landmark project of the Central government called ‘Operation Greens’.
One of the main reasons for the fluctuations can be attributed to the lack of storage facilities. As India is one of the largest producers of these vegetables, there should never be any shortage.
Majunath, a trader at the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) said, “We don’t need storage facilities for onions. For potatoes we have storage. So, currently we don’t have any issue as the price remains stable as it is the season only in Karnataka for production. When the other states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh etc start producing we face price issues.”
Arun of Vijayalakshmi traders at the APMC said, “We have asked for warehouses to store onions, as we have to keep them in dry conditions. The APMC have said they will do it as soon as possible, but until now, they haven’t. Until the time the price remains stable we don’t have any problem.”
In India, these three vegetables are consumed in larger quantities than other vegetables by most of the population. Onions are largely produced in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.
Potatoes are largely produced in the states of Jharkhand, Karnataka, and Haryana. Tomatoes are largely produced in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. Karnataka is the largest producer of all three.
Dr. V. Rajanna, Additional Secretary in Department of Agricultural Marketing said, “These fluctuations are based on demand and supply, and the seasons. For example, now is not the season when onions grow in Maharashtra, so the price now in Karnataka is good. But, when onions start flourishing well in Maharashtra and other places, the supply will be larger, but the demand will remain the same. Then arises the problem.”

What is Operation Greens?
Operation Greens (Modi’s TOP) was a project that was introduced by the current government when they announced the budget in February 2018. The main motive of the project was to reduce the fluctuations in the price of the main three vegetables: onions, potatoes and tomatoes. The reason was because a lot of farmers were facing a lot of distress due to the fluctuations in the prices.
The government decided to launch the project by allocating Rs.500crore and by roping in the state governments and the agricultural marketing committees.
But, told the Softcopy Newspaper that they did not receive any funding from the central government in this regard. In fact, he stated that he was not aware of the project.
The central government also decided to set up cold storage facilities and food processing units. They also started to rope-in Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO’s) with Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC’s), to reduce the issue of middlemen and fraudsters.
But, Rajanna said, “Onions cannot be kept in cold storage as it will produce moisture and lead to pungent smell and growth. Cold storage is very useful for only some vegetables and fruits. Onions and potatoes are commodities that are dispatched the day they are purchased, so there is no need for storage as we don’t have any stock.”
He added, “In Dasanthpur, we have opened our own cold storage for tomatoes, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables. This is not funded by the central government. And, before this project the FPO’s are already linked with us and we have given license to 14-15 FPO’s to trade on their own. Thus, the only problem we face know is when the farmers bring more produce than it is needed and then we will have to reject their produce due to surplus. We are trying to arrive at a solution.”
He added, “Now we are exporting almost eighty percent of our produce to the other states. The remaining is used for the city. Thus, now we have stabilized the rates in Karnataka.”

  • Sacks of onions in the APMC yard waiting to be transported in lorries.
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