Bhawanipatna (Orissa), June 20 : Where people in coastal Orissa are battling with floods, farmers in Bhawanipatna block of Kalahandi District in western Orissa are forced to sell their onions at throwaway prices.
Lack of proper storage and marketing facilities have forced farmers to sell onions at throwaway rates.
Deprived of adequate irrigation facilities they were compelled to grow onions instead of paddy and cotton, which need ample water.
"Here we do not have sufficient amount of water for irrigation. Hence we cannot grow paddy. So onion farming is the only hope for us," said Niraj Pradhan, a farmer.
There are no cold storage facilities. As a result, farmers are forced to sell the produce to the middlemen.
"Here we do not have any facility to store onions. A house where we could store onions is abandoned. So how can we store them? Hence due to fear of onions rotting, we have been forced to sell onions at whatever price we get," said Kushia, another farmer.
The middlemen, who come to buy the stocks are getting onions at a very low price.
On their part, the middlemen contend that they are helping the farmers by buying all their stocks and not letting the onions rot.
"Around five to ten trucks come to this village and we load around 10 tonnes of onion in every truck. Previously, the rates were around Rs.130 to 135 per ton but now the rates have increased to Rs. 170. In Bhubaneshwar we sell onions at Rs. 4.50 per kilogram and in Kharagpur, it is sold at Rs. 5 per kilogram. We do not know about the rate at which the Government buys onions and since there is no market set up by the Government, we come and take it," said Sandip Agarwal, a middleman.
Since the farmers are poverty stricken, they cannot afford to tap bigger markets, located over 60 kilometres away from their villages.