The Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, after passing of 200000 Corer Food security Bill by the ruling Congress led UPA recently, had made a statement that he is happy that his Government has ensured that the rural poor can now be fed.
The question which he must address is that are 5 kgs of cereals and some assorted pulses are enough to feed the poor? What about the milk to new born child or for that matter vegetables? Besides without addressing mind boggling corruption prevailing in the country how will these items reach the needy?
All sorts of excuses like excessive rains delaying the sowing of onions to crude oil price hike in world market are being given by the politicians for this unprecedented rise in onion prices. The truth as highlighted by a recent study done by a reliable government agency is more specific in concluding that this price rise is the result of hoarding done by 18-20 onion cartels of the country having good political connections.
These people create this type of artificial shortages to generate high prices for high profits. Surely hoarding at this level and at this scale is just not possible without the connivance of political class and their bureaucratic sub servers. Instead of bursting these cartels and arresting this onion mafia our political class is crying onion tears and offering consolation to aam aadmi to have patetience.
In India every year vegetable and fruit products amounting to 60000 corers go stale and waste due to non-availability of cold storage chains and food processing plants. In addition there is no civil supply system that can lift these items from place of production itself in an organised manner with suitable remunerative price given to farmer.
There after these products can be transported and delivered to the consumer with minimum of links in between thus keeping the prices within reasonable limits. In transportation itself each state have erected so many toll collecting booths and with state police soliciting money by these transporters at will, the transportation cost of these perishable items are adding up to the price rise because the transporters are passing on these additional burden to the consumer.
It is time that we have an organised public debate on how to optimise our agricultural products and smoothen their transportation. There is a need to establish chain of cold storage plants and small scale food processing units. Where sufficient power is not available cold storage plants and food processing units could be run by solar energy.
The farmers who grow fruits and vegetables must get incentives in terms of assured supply of quality seeds, fertilisers and technical advice. Cooperatives must be established which must make available to small farmers the technical appliances on hire and ensure that the farmers products are properly harvested and sold off.
The ruling Government must give suitable concessions to entice private entrepreneurs in this project which should come up as public private participation concept. The transportation of these goods must be modernised with minimum of bottlenecks.
These measures will bring down the inflation in food products on permanent basis and these products will not be dependent on vagaries of weather. Aam adami will also breathe easy.