From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Storage facilities for farm produce
- Ever since the Delhi government was ousted in 1998 by popular outrage over a spurt in onion prices, politicians have been wary of this vegetable.
- The political response should solve, not structurally worsen, the problem that lies at the root of the occasional shortage of the vegetable.
Ban on onions export
- The ban on export of onions that the central government has imposed follows in a traditional route and ignores the need for the farmer to get better terms of trade, paving the way for future shortage.
- Onion is a relatively small crop, a little over 15 million tonnes in India.
- China cultivates a lower area, but is the world’s largest producer, because its yield is about half as much higher than in India.
- Bangladesh is very unhappy with India’s export ban,because that has worsened the shortage there.
- Sudden export bans shut off the possibility of the farmer getting a bumper price for his crop, something that he feels he is entitled to, as the obverse of the distress sale he often has to undertake.
- The sensible course is proper storage at times of harvest and steady decumulation of stocks over the year.
- This will not help, however, in case of a sudden shortfall in output, thanks to flooding or unseasonal rains, as has happened this year.
- Instead of banning exports, the government should encourage export of onion in its raw and processed forms.
- The govt. must invest in food technology that would permit farmers to increase output without fear of distress sales, onion offtake assured because of its storage in a processed state.