HD Deve Gowda asks PM Modi to look into crashing prices of horticulture produce
Bengaluru, May 25: Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda on Tuesday urged the Centre to look into the problem of crashing prices of horticulture produce in rural areas because of a broken market network due to lockdown.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the JD(S) supremo cited the multi-level problems taking shape in rural India in the form of COVID infections reaching villages, crashing horticulture prices and unemployment due to reverse migration to the villages from the cities.
These problems, according to Gowda, should not be allowed to grow into a "heated social cauldron of unrest". "COVID reaching rural India is a worrying problem but crashing prices of horticultural produce is delivering a twin blow to rural masses and is affecting their small, yet self-sustained livelihoods," Gowda wrote to PM Modi.
The veteran politician cited an example of a Kolar APMC where the farmers dumped their tomato produce because it did not fetch them a good price.
"The Kolar APMC receives tomatoes from five to six districts in South Karnataka, and in Kolar alone it is grown on nearly ten thousand acres," Gowda said. He added that he has read similar reports of fruits, vegetables and flowers either being dumped, crushed or abandoned from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
"The reasons for the prices to fall are varied but in general, the market network is broken, access to markets have been hindered due to lockdowns," the former Prime Minister said.
Stating that the horticulture products are not served by the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism, Gowda pointed out that the governments are already burdened with vaccine procurement and building COVID infrastructure and they are left with little funds to rush to the help of small and medium horticulture farmers.
According to him, it will be a good idea if the Prime Minister asks the horticulture and agriculture departments in the states to spend time on this crisis that is brewing, find a solution and help farmers.
"Or else, people in rural areas may survive the pandemic, but may have nothing to live on," Gowda cautioned. With urban areas shut down and reverse migration happening, the pressure of living in villages has gone up manifold, the JD(S) supremo said.
"The unemployment figures are growing too, and all this should not lead to a heated social cauldron of unrest," Gowda pointed out. Many states in the country including Karnataka have imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Strict restrictions are in place in Karnataka since April 27 and will continue till June 7.Due to the lockdown in the state, COVID cases have come down from over 50,000 new cases a day a month ago to 25,311 on Monday.