Despite high onion production in Maharashtra, the price of this commodity is skyrocketing.
Food inflation hit its peak in December, with onions being priced at an incredible rate of Rs.65 in some parts of the country. Maharashtra, where Rohini lives, is the largest producer of onions in the country, and produces 25-30% of the total amount annually. Unseasonal rains from July to November last year caused two diseases, the Purple Anthracnose and Purple Blotch, which destroyed massive quantities of onion crops and led to a nation-wide onion shortage.
"We use onions in everything we cook," says Rohini. "I used to buy a kilo of low quality onions for Rs.5-6. Now I don't buy onions much, and I don't use much in cooking. All around us are onion fields, but we can't afford to buy them." Even those who grow the onions themselves are suffering, she told us. Because of the diseases, their production has reduced and they have had to pump in more money to recover the remaining crop.
Rohini, whose total household income amounts to Rs.3,000 a month, has had to budget much more carefully and choose the lowest quality commodities available in the market. "Other things have also become expensive. Basic things. Like sugar, wheat, oil. We try to spend about Rs.100 per week on groceries, but of late we have to spend more. The prices are rising and we are just helpless."
The farmers in Walhe, as Rohini has shown in her video, sell their produce at Rs.50 to the wholesalers in bigger markets, and keep only the bad onions for sale at Rs.25 in the local markets. So the villagers, surrounded by fields of onions, have to consume the lowest quality vegetables. Rohini thinks that if the government set up a cooperative for the farmers of Walhe, where they could sell their stock at a reasonable price throughout the year, this would benefit the whole community.
If not for the intervention by our community correspondent, the poor villagers would have continued paying taxes for a land they didn't own.
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