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Odisha govt’s apathy forces Kalahandi farmers to distress sell onion to C’garh traders

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kesinga, May 14:

Due to sheer governmental apathy, onion farmers in Odisha’s Kalahandi district are forced to distress sell their produce to traders from neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh despite harvesting a bumper crop this year.

Farmers in Kalahandi district’s Bhawanipatna subdivision have been extensively cultivating onion for past several years.

Though state government’s Horticulture department claims that onion has been cultivated in 500 hectares unofficial figures quote it at more than 1,000 hectares from which a yield of about 16,000 tonnes is expected.

Despite such huge production of onions there is neither a cold store for its storage nor exist market yards (mandis) like the ones for paddy and cotton. This leaves the farmer high and dry to be exploited at the hands of traders from Chhattisgarh who are procuring onion at throwaway prices.

These traders from the neighbouring state procure onions from farmers on this side at a throwaway price of as less as Rs 5 a kg and store the stuff in cold storages on the other side to sell it to traders on this side when prices go up.

Notwithstanding, heated debates in the State Assembly and announcement of schemes and promises, not a single cold store has come up in Kalahandi district.

While the Horticulture department has been claiming of promoting onion cultivation among farmers, it has been reduced to a farce in Kalahandi. Severe resentment is brewing among farmers over state government’s and they are fast losing interest in onion cultivation.

While claiming that there are 400 onion storage structures, District Horticulture Officer Sudhakar Sahu has admitted that there is marketing mechanism in place for onion.

Most of the onion storage structures are either in ruins or are half completed and in some cases non-existent.