Friday, March 7, 2008

Rajasthan to Dhaulpur-Story of cold storages

A large number of agri products go waste due to absence of proper storage facilities especially the perishable items like fruits, vegetables, fish/sea food. There is high shortage of storage facility in the country. Especially at the places where there is comparatively high productivity –For e.g. rich agriculture or fruit belt. Often a huge quantity of he produce perishes in the absence of preservation. Especially for the small and marginal farmers who first of all do not find the storage facility and secondly even if they find it they often end up spending a lot of money. From Rajasthan to Dhaulpur, the story of the storage facility reveals the same fact .It was found that this belt produces potatoes in huge quantity. The farmers have to go to the nearest cold storages for making arrangements for off seasonal sale. The team visited the two cold storages. One Mr.Mittal’s, Eye specialist in the region and the other one of Mr. Jagan’s who is a local MLA.
The team was amazed to see kilometer long queue of tractors loaded with mainly potatoes .All waiting for the storage to open. The farmers usually stay there day and night because the space is limited and there is no other storage facility in the region. Farmers on the way were waiting for last 7 days. But storage did not open .It was however opened for the big farmers.
There is again a plot against farmers here .The storage owner buys each bag of potato at the rate of Rs.40/quintal from the big farmer and charges Rs.50 from small farmers. There are usually 120 bags in one tractor. There is no law that under which storages operate here. The owners fix the price. The tractor is hired by the farmers at the rate of Rs500 /day. Apart from this the storage owners sell their own bags to farmers with a price of Rs.16 per bag. The owners do not entertain any farmer until and unless the produce is filled in their own bags. That is an added burden on the farmers’ .In their long wait, the potato or any other produce, often gets dried up or spoiled. There is no control of the government on storage operations in the area, so the owner can refuse the farmer or adjust the price according to its convenience. Here the farmers sell its produce at the rate of Rs80-100/quintal, and if he opts for the second option and goes to Mandi he gets Rs.60-80 for the same quantity. So in both cases the farmer is at loss. In the storage, when a farmer goes to collect its material the owners return the spoilt one and are not responsible for the spoilage of any sort. If the storage is being used for a longer period the farmer has to pay a certain amount of interest to the owner.

This is clearly a form of ‘Exploitation’

On this, the owners store their own commodity and give spare space to farmers on their own price. Usually the price is not fixed and the owner is the sole authority as far as price fixing is concerned.
The farmer in short has no place to go.

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