Maharashtra: Sanjay Sathe, an onion farmer of the state, angry with the Modi Government and their failed efforts to help the agricultural workers of the country, sent his paltry income of Rs 1,064 from selling 750 kg onion to the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund as a mark of protest.
Sathe, who is a resident of Niphad tehsil in Nashik district, back in 2010 was among the handful of `progressive farmers’ selected by the Union agriculture ministry for an interaction with the then US president Barack Obama when he visited India.
And now after eight years, he is still barely managing to get a little over Re 1/kg for his crop.
Speaking to PTI on Sunday Sathe said, “I produced 750 kg of onion this season but was offered a rate of Rs 1 per kg at Niphad wholesale market last week.
“Finally I could negotiate a deal for Rs 1.40 per kg and received Rs 1,064 for 750 kg.It was painful to see such paltry returns on four months of toil. Hence I have donated Rs 1,064 to the Disaster Relief Fund of the PMO as a protest. I had to pay additional Rs 54 for sending it by money order,” he added.
“I do not represent any political party. But I am angry because of the government’s apathy towards our woes,” Sathe said.
The money order was addressed to “Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India”, and was sent on November 29 from the Niphad office of India Post.
As per reports, when asked about his last meeting with the then U.S. President, Obama, Sathe said, “I have been using a voice-based advisory service (run by a telecom operator) for farmers for a long time. I used to call them and get information about weather changes, and thus succeeded in increasing my production.
“I had also been invited to speak about my experiments in agriculture on local radio stations of AIR. So the agriculture ministry selected me to set up a stall at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai when Obama visited it. I could speak to him for a couple of minutes through an interpreter.”
Nashik district in north Maharashtra accounts for 50 per cent of onion production in India and yet their farmers have to go through four months of toil and labour with not even getting two rupees for a kilo at the end of their produce.
Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Budget this year, announced the launching of Operation Greens scheme to address price fluctuations in onion, potato and tomato for benefit of farmers and consumers, allocating Rs 500 crore for the scheme.
Back then, the announcement came at the time when the Nashik farmers were not getting the right price for their produce, and do we see a change yet?
The Government should take necessary steps to help the farmers get the right price, announcing schemes is the first step, but they should also check if the farmers are actually getting benefit from the same.
According to the National Horticulture Research & Development Foundation (NHRDF) sources, the average production cost for growing onions is around Rs 900 per quintal and farmers incur losses if they get the price below that.