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Lockdown left Karnataka Farmers high and dry due to interruptions

Karnataka Vegetables and flowers farmers cite a drop in demand and interruption in transportation networks.

When the lockdown was imposed in the last week of April, Chandrakanth Rama, a small farmer in Kalaburagi district, still had two acres of onion and ladies finger to harvest. As a result, while transportation expenses increased, prices plummeted to the point that he opted not to harvest the crop.

The fee he was offered was less than a fifth of what he would need to cover his expenses. ‘If I sell at these prices, I’ll lose a lot of money because of the harvesting and transportation charges. So I’m feeding my cattle the ladies’ finger. So I’m feeding my livestock the ladies’ finger. ‘ As for the onions, I’ve instructed the labourers that they can harvest and take as many as they want for free,’ Mr. Rama explained.

Also Read: Many of the foods we thought were vegetables are actually fruits!

Dumped produce

Many farmers in Karnataka have experienced something similar. A video of a frustrated watermelon grower in Sagar, Shivamogga, trashing his harvest went viral. Another video showed a jasmine grower tossing his crop on the district’s streets and blasting the officials over the lockout. Many tomato growers in Kolar and Chickballapur recently demonstrated by throwing their harvest onto the streets.

‘A kilo of tomato was selling for less than ₹2, barely covering my transportation costs, let alone my investment. So I left the crop in the market and came back,’Adi Reddy, a tomato farmer from Kolar, stated.

Following the Statewide lockdown imposed for the previous three weeks, these farmers have been struck hard by a drop in demand for vegetables, fruits, and flowers, as well as disruptions in transportation networks and high transportation expenses.

Despite the fact that the lockdown instructions clearly allow unrestricted transportation of any cargo, road networks, particularly inter-district and inter-state ones, have been interrupted.

Also Read: APMCs to remains shut down across Karnataka on 21 December 2020

‘Vegetables were not being moved out of the state for two weeks. This is no longer an issue.  Only until the supply to other States, notably West Bengal and Bangladesh, restarted, did the price of tomatoes improve to ₹7 to ₹9 per kilogramme,’ Mentioned by Mr G. Srinivasan, a farmer from Nandi village and a member of HOPCOMS (Horticultural Producers’ Cooperative Marketing and Processing).

He further claimed that transportation companies were charging several times as much as usual, blaming the lockdown, police harassment, and soaring diesel prices as reasons. ‘ Diesel prices have reached an all-time high of ₹90 per litre. This has exacerbated the farmers’ problems,’ he continued.

Insufficient relief

Farmers and farmers’ unions have condemned the State government’s sop of ₹10,000 per hectare (₹4,000 per acre) for vegetable, fruit, and flower growers as ‘woefully inadequate.’ ‘ The sum they have given us does not substitute for the daily losses we are experiencing,’ Ganesh, a Hassan farmer, remarked.

‘Not only is ₹4,000 per acre inadequate,’ ‘but the overall budget for this sop is less than ₹100 crore, which clearly implies that not all farmers would receive this relief.’ said Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, head of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha.

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