Today when you buy then also cry and when you peel then also your eyes remain watery. The onion, once a inconsequential food item of the kitchen has become the most expensive one living tears in the eye of people. This agri product has set the new trend always during the BJP rule. It saw the first price rise during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government from Rs 5 a kg to Rs 25 a kg and touched Rs 170-mark in the second term. For a large section of 1.2 billion people in the country onion is the kitchen staple, and the Finance Minister’s reply towards the skyrocketing price of the humble bulb crop leaves a bad taste. With the Jharkhand Assembly elections under way, the issue has the potential to snowball and even cost the ruling party electorally. The BJP, having been stung earlier, should know the impact of onion prices. Its government in Delhi was ousted in 1998 to a large extent due to popular outrage over the spurt in onion prices. As the price of onion crosses the Rs 160 per kg mark across the states, both farmers and consumers – a huge constituency – are teary-eyed. Having procured the present stock in the last rabi season for a pittance, it is only the middleman who is making a killing role. That such sudden surges in the prices of basic vegetables – onions, tomatoes, potatoes -which have become a regular feature speak poorly of the politico-economic response that swings around tweaking import and export norms. Fulfilling the PM’s poll promise of doubling farmers’ income requires assiduous steps to lift the agri-market. It is bogged down with hoarding, official incompetence and nexus with traders in ramping up prices. In addition, proper storage and farm insurance reaching the beneficiaries are vital to cushion another bane of peasants: errant weather. To maintain a balance between ensuring a remunerative price to the growers and lid on retail rates, the farmers need to get a safety net in times of glut. Efforts to encourage them to tie up with food technology investors have not yielded the desired result.
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