Distressed Chhatisgarh farmers give away veggies for free

Farmers on Monday distributed their produce free of cost at Raipur in Chandigarh to protest the low prices of vegetables and to press various demands.

A huge gathering of people standing in serpentine queues was witnessed at Dharna Sthal in Budhatalab area where vegetables stored in mini trucks were being distributed.  

"About 1 lakh kilogrammes of vegetables were distributed to nearly 20,000 people free of cost," claimed Hitesh Varu, president of Chhattisgarh Yuva Pragatisheel Kisan Sangh.

The prices of vegetables have slumped in both wholesale and open markets all over the state for the past couple of days.

Large consignments of vegetables like tomato, capsicum, banana, chilly, cabbage and others are arriving constantly to markets from villages triggering a drop in their price, Varu said.

Ruling out the effect of demonetisation on the prices of vegetables, Varu said, "it's a common phenomenon of every year but this year it has lasted for a long duration adding more trouble to the producers."

Farmers are not even getting the amount which they had spent on cultivation this time, he claimed.

The association has also raised several demands like waving outstanding electricity bills of farmers up to July 2017, waving interest on farm loans drawn from banks for the current crop season and setting up cold storage and processing units, he said.

Besides, farmers have also demanded setting up of sugar plants in high vegetable cultivation areas so that producers can switch to sugarcane farming, he added.

However, state agriculture minister Brijmohan Agrawal said vegetable markets did not see traders from outside the state and this led to a drop in prices.

"We have planned to set up cold storage units in different parts of the state and a multi-speciality cold storage here for farmers.

"Besides, farmers are also being provided compact solar-powered cold storage on subsidy so that it can be easily accessed by them," he said.

On the steep fall in prices of vegetables, he said the traders from the neighbouring states did not arrive here to procure vegetables.

Farmers last month had dumped tonnes of tomatoes on roads in Jashpur and Durg districts after getting fed up with decline in prices of the vegetable.