Farmers in India’s Madhya Pradesh state set to agitate over garlic prices


A year after an agitation over falling onion prices in which five people died in police firing, farmers in Madhya Pradesh are set to launch protests over poor prices of garlic, which they say has fallen to as low as Rs 1/kg due to a bumper crop.

Farmers say that prices in the wholesale market have dropped from around Rs 20 per kg earlier in the season to current lows due to a massive crop in both Madhya Pradesh and adjoining Rajasthan, both which together produce 45 percent of India’s crops.

Indeed, at the Mandsaur mandi in Madhya Pradesh, wholesale price of garlic fell from Rs 1,804 a quintal in January this year to Rs 779 per quintal for the first ten days of May.

Last week, prices touched as low as Rs 200 per quintal in some government operated mandis, as per the data provided by government-operated Agmarknet. The situation is even worse in the markets that operate privately.

Last year, farmers in Madhya Pradesh had faced a similar situation with their onion crop when the wholesale market price crashed to Re 1 per kg.

Consequently, farmers switched to sowing garlic this year in the hope of getting higher prices for their produce. However, due to the switch, the area under garlic cultivation increased from 92,000 hectare in 2016-17 to 1.28 lakh hectare in 2017-18, which led to the excess produce.

The Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh is planning a stir from June 1 to June 10, during which it plans to stop supply of farm products such as milk, vegetable and grains to cities across the country. The stir is planned with broader demands such as implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and loan waivers.

It is believed the protests will be particularly strong in the Mandsaur region of Madhya Pradesh due to the fate faced by garlic growers.

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