And for a Friday with inflation at a 40 month high, Vegetable prices 36% costlier this month and Onions skyrocketing….. some thoughts….. some musings…..
China, India, Mexico and US are the major Onion Growing countries of the world. India with a normal consumption of 16 million tonnes and production of 19 to 20 million tonnes is a net exporter. In 2018 India exported Onions worth more than 3500 crores, mainly to South Asia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and also to Middle East. Though China is the largest producer, the Indian Onions are preferred for South Asian cooking – people love the pungency. This year, due unseasonal rains the Onion crop was badly damaged. In Maharashtra and Karnataka, the major growing states, loss of production is 50% and prices have shot up from 25 to 30 Rs in July to 80 to 150 Rs in December. Oops….. painful….. tearful…..
Onion Politics in India is paradoxical. Every party in Opposition has used Onion prices as a Tool to hit the Govt. But when in Power, the same crisis management techniques is resorted to – ban Exports, Traders stocking limits, Panic buttons, but no long term solution. Poor Farmers suffer, be it shortage or surplus. We need long term solutions – dismantling of the APMC, Technology based Crop forecasting Models, newer variety of seeds, Focused research at Agri universities, Temperature and Humidity controlled Storage Godowns, Modern management strategies, Agri professionals at the helm and not Babus from Commerce and Agri ministries from Delhi.
Let us learn from tiny Netherlands. A country the size of Kerala grows almost all vegetables for the World markets and has consistently been the largest exporter of Tomatoes, peppers, chilies and more than 700 mn dollars of Onions year after year. Let us all learn from the best in the world and make India a dependable Agri exporter, the technology way, the reliable way, the SEEGOS way.