COVID-19: Karnataka Farmers Dump Produce as Supply Chain Snaps
Unable to sell their crop, videos of farmers dumping grapes, and fields of rotting vegetables have emerged
A farmer in north Karnataka’s Bidar killed himself on Monday, 30 March, reportedly over the fact that he was not able to transport his watermelon crop to the nearby markets for sale.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, 47-year-old Chandrakant Biradar, a watermelon farmer, ended his life on Monday evening, burdened by debt and unable to find a way to send his watermelons to Kalaburagi or Latur in Maharashtra, where he used to sell his crop to wholesalers. A case of unnatural death has been registered at the local police station.
Biradar’s suicide is the first in Karnataka due to the current 21-day lockdown that has been put in place by the central government to contain the spread of COVID-19 that has claimed 38 lives in the country so far.
However, reports of farmers dumping their entire produce into open fields to be buried and piles of vegetables lying waste have been emerging across the state.
“The CM keeps saying that he is pro-farmer, but what has he done? There is demand for ginger in the north, turmeric in Maharashtra but how do we go there? The prices have hit rock-bottom and all the wholesale markets are also so there is no profit even if we do find a wholesale dealer,” said Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, a farmer leader.
According to Mahesh Bhat, a photographer and hobby farmer who has been watching the developments in this sector since the lockdown, said that the problem was that the supply chain had totally snapped.
“All the mandis have closed and there is no transport available. How is the farmer supposed to transport his goods? Also, all the labourers have gone back so who will do the work? At long last, they set up an agri-war room, but what about the next crop? Farmers have lost lakhs this time, and there are no sees available as the shops are shut. The government has to step in,”he said.
Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, a farmer’s organization said that the agriculture markets were totally closed.
All the wholesale markets are closed. We don’t have any transport to take our goods. In Chikkaballapura, after fighting with the local authorities, they permitted one farmer to go to Kochi, Kerala to sell his grapes there as there was demand. The farmer went all the way, was not able to sell, dumped four loads, and came back. This is what is happening,”Kodihalli Chandrashekhar
Adding that all the markets run by Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) were shut across the state, Chandrashekhar said that they were trying to get the one in Yeshwanthput in Bengaluru opened, with concessions and facilities made available for the farmers.
“We want them to make some arrangements for the food and shelter for the farmers who come to bengaluru to sell their stock. Food from Indira Canteens can be arranged and they must be given some place to be out up after taking on such an arduous task. The government keep coming us to come and sell, but how do we do that? If our issues are not resolved, the damages will run into double or triple the amount the farmers lost when their fields were ravaged by floods last year,” he said.
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