Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to his counterparts in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra on Monday in connection with direct procurement of vegetables from farmers of their respective states. The CM made the plea in light of the increasing price of onions recently.
"I wish to invite your kind attention to the fact that the need of the hour is to reduce the volatility in the price movements and bring about price stability to protect the consumers from an inflationary spiral. Being a consumer state, people of Kerala depend substantially on the arrival of commodities from other states," CM Pinarayi wrote in letters to Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palaniswami and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.
He suggests that the fluctuations in onion prices can be made stable and consumers protected from inflation by direct procurement of vegetables. Mentioning a national government scheme for this, announced in the Union Budget of 2018-19, the CM writes that it is meant to stabilise the supply and prices of tomato, onion and potato crops.
As of now, the NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India) is doing the procurement.
The CM suggests that government agencies such as Supplyco, Horticorp and Consumerfed can directly procure crops like tomato, onion and potato from the farmers and Farmers Producer Organisations (FPOs) in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, after ensuring payment of remunerative prices to them. "This will help in ironing out the volatilities in prices faced by the consumers," he adds.
On Thursday, the state's Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar told the media that Kerala will source onions from the NAFED and sell them to people at half the market price, as a step to bring down the steep increase in price. It should reduce the price of onions by up to Rs 50 per kg. He said that the price rise was due to market fluctuations in north India.
Recent price hike had caused small onions to cost up to Rs 100 per kilo and large ones to Rs 90 per kilo. However, the same trend has been seen in other south Indian states as well, with the price of other vegetables also witnessing a hike.