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Demonetisation is having Negative impact on Farmers: Too many Vegetables, too little Money

Tomato farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were the worst hit since prices fell by 60-85 per cent while onion farmers were the worst hit in Maharashtra and Gujarat

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Jan 19, 2017: Sunil Kumar, a 31-year-old farmer in Tondala village, Kolar district, 85 km east of Bengaluru, lost Rs 300,000 in November when tomato prices crashed due to the demonetisation earlier that month and the excess supply of vegetables.

Kumar, who cultivates tomatoes on his five-acre farm, said he made a profit of Rs 30 lakh during the same time last year.

The 110 per cent drop in income from 2016 has come at a time when the weather — and so the harvest — was good this year, said Kumar. So, demonetisation – under which Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which accounted for 86 per cent of all cash, were banned on November 8 — couldn’t have come at a worse time. With money sucked out of the market, there was a tomato glut, and prices crashed by 80 per cent.

“A 15-kg crate of tomatoes traded this year between Rs 30 and Rs 50 (instead of Rs 700 at its peak),” said Kumar. “I had no reason to spend on transportation and bring it to the market or wait for the price to pick up. So, I uprooted all my tomato plants in late November to minimise the loss. This is the worst we have seen in my experience.”

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Kolar is the biggest vegetable-growing region in Karnataka, and houses Asia’s second-largest tomato market. In November, the ruling price of tomatoes in the Kolar market was Rs 3-5 per kg, or 85 per cent lesser than the same time in 2015.

Kumar’s case is echoed across India. The price of tomatoes crashed to 25 paise/kg, reports said, which prompted farmers in a Chhattisgarh district to dump nearly 100 tractor-trolleys, or about 45,000 kg, of tomatoes, on a national highway.

Similar incidents by frustrated farmers were reported in Nashik, Hyderabad and other key vegetable-growing regions.

Tomato farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were the worst hit since prices fell by 60-85 per cent while onion farmers were the worst hit in Maharashtra and Gujarat, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of vegetable prices in seven Indian cities — Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai — between November 2015 and November 2016.

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The price of potatoes, which have a shelf life of up to 2-3 months, was stable in places such as Delhi and Chennai, while it rose between 17 per cent and 25 per cent in Bengaluru and Mumbai. The price of potatoes per quintal was Rs 1,086 in November 2015, increasing 27 per cent to Rs 1,376 in November 2016.

The price of peas dropped between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, with arrivals increasing in six cities, except Mumbai.

The crash in prices was also due to oversupply, the data show. While the prices of tomatoes (hybrid variety) fell by 55-85 per cent, the supply was double and even triple the previous year in parts of India, such as Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Hyderabad, according to data from the National Horticulture Board.

In Chennai, for instance, the maximum price a farmer could get per quintal of tomatoes in November 2016 was Rs 760, compared to Rs 4,900 in November 2015, a drop of 85 per cent. The supply to the city was 2,910 metric tonne, an increase of 40 per cent from 2015.

In Hyderabad, prices dropped 60 per cent but supply increased 337 per cent in November.

Onions were traded anywhere between Rs 650 and Rs 1,500 per quintal in November 2016, compared to Rs 3,027 to Rs 5,600 in 2015.

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At the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Nashik, Maharashtra, India’s largest wholesale onion market, onions were sold at between Rs 5 and Rs 7 a kilogram.

In the seven cities we analysed data for, supply was 196,400 metric tonne in November 2016, against 186,175 metric tonne in November 2015.

The situation worsened in December, as prices fell by another 20-50 per cent, and peas traded at a 10-year low in the Delhi market, according to officials from the Horticulture Department.

“The monsoon rains would subside during September to November, and it would result in lesser yield, indicating lesser supply and higher prices,” Bellur Krishna, Managing Director of the state-owned Horticultural Producers Cooperative Marketing and Processing Society, told IndiaSpend. “This year, the rainfall was good in the vegetable-growing regions of Karnataka.”

“This led to good harvest but the prices are also down due to the cash crisis triggered by demonetisation,” he said.

Kolar, Belagavi, Haveri and Chitradurga, the top vegetable-growing regions in Karnataka, received normal rainfall during the southwest monsoon in 2016. But Karnataka declared a drought in 22 districts and some additional talukas in October 2016; the state received Rs 1,782 crore from the central government.

“The impact of demonetisation could only be to the extent of 20 per cent of the price fall,” said Krishna.

Around 9.4 million hectares, or 10 per cent of India’s cropped area, is under vegetable cultivation, of which 50 per cent is given to potato, onion and tomato, according to Horticulture Board data.

“Most of the transactions in fruits and vegetables are in cash,” Brajendra Singh, Director, National Horticulture Board, told IndiaSpend. “So, demonetisation has definitely had some bearing. Arrivals had increased; so, the downturn was obvious.”

Tomato cultivation is usually routed through market clusters (around cities) and is profitable, Singh said.

“This time, it was available from local sources,” said Singh. “The price of tomatoes had gone up to Rs 50 a kg over the last two years. This year, the climate was favourable and resulted in bumper crops. Suddenly, the markets were depressed due to oversupply and because there was no cash.”

Singh predicted the situation would be “normal” over the next quarter, and crops would fetch a good price for farmers by the summer of 2017. (IANS)

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.