MIRZA, March 11 - Government programmes that have been investing thousands of crores of rupees in the agriculture sector in Assam are running into rough weather and thousands of vegetable farmers in several parts of Assam have been incurring heavy losses due to the poor policies of the Government.
A survey by this correspondent revealed that over 100 vegetable farmers of Futuri village in Palasari Revenue Circle in Kamrup district have been incurring heavy losses in sale of their vegetables produced in several hundred acres of alluvial sandy loam land located on the banks of the Brahmaputra.
The failure of the Government to provide subsided good quality seeds, fertilisers and proper storage and proper marketing facilities have mainly contributed to the heavy losses to the farmers.
According to 50-year-old Nakser Ali, a farmer of Futuri village (under Palasbari LAC in Kamrup district) who has raised vegetable crops in his five bighas of alluvial land on the bank of the river Brahmaputra, the output (sale price) value of vegetables is very less as compared to the input cost (investment cost), resulting in the loss of several thousands of rupees to every farmer of Futuri village.
“Presently, we are selling cabbage at Rs 150 per quintal (Rs 1.5 per kg), cauliflower at Rs 500 per quintal, brinjal at Rs 300 per quintal. We are getting Rs 6000 to Rs 7000 from the sale of each bigha of cabbage crop as against the investment cost of Rs 7000 to Rs 9000 in each bigha of cabbage crop, thereby suffering a loss of Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 in each bigha of vegetable crop. In the case of other rabi crops (like chilli, brinjal, potato etc.,) too, we have been incurring heavy losses. Besides, we have to invest an additional Rs 50 per quintal of produce for transportation to the markets located around 12-15 km away,” he said.
Nakser Ali further said that they have been selling their produce to the traders in bulk quantities at unregulated wholesale prices and that the sale price of vegetable is reducing day after day. He said that due to lack of cold storage or other storage facilities in their field or in the markets , they (farmers) have to sell their produce to traders at meagre prices fearing rotting of their (vegetable) produce and thus incurring heavy losses.
"The government has neither fixed the price of vegetables nor provided us the storage (cold storage) facilities for storing vegetables which could not be sold, forcing us to suffer heavy losses every year," said Nakser Ali.
Nakser Ali added that the prices of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and nutrients are also rising high year after year but the sale price of crops has not been increased.
"In 2001, I sold cauliflowers at Rs 10 per kg but now (in 2019), I have been selling those at Rs 5 per kg. The pricing of vegetables is decreasing year after year but the price of agriculture inputs ( fertilisers, pesticides, micronutrients, seeds) are increasing every year. We engaged labourers at Rs 200 per day in 2001 but now we have to pay Rs 300 per day to a labour to work in our farms . How can we survive with our family," he lamented.
He alleged that the government has provided him poor quality seeds of broccoli this year and none of them have yielded fruits.
"The government has provided us poor quality seeds of broccoli free of cost this year which have not yielded fruits, but I invested the money on ploughing, fertilisers, pesticides and micronutrients , labour etc., for raising the broccoli crop and got nothing," he alleged. He alleged that Government has done nothing to compensate him for the loss.
Many farmers have alleged that the quality of seeds provided by the Government have, sometimes, been found to be poor which yielded very less output and hence the Government should not provide them poor quality seeds but they should be provided cash incentives in lieu of poor seeds.
They said that the government should provide proper marketing facilities to them and also provide proper storage facilities. Besides, it should fix the price of the vegetables every month and adequate facilities need be given to them for exporting of the vegetable produce in the national and international markets for maximising profits out of their produce.