By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, January 17: Assam has the dubious distinction of having a ‘market magic’ of its own. A number of ‘conjurers’ are active in different avatars just to mint money, and in the process a vegetable item that is bought at only 50 paise a kg is sold at Rs 20 a kg at another place located some 80 km away, and that too not located in any difficult terrain.
The ‘magic’ is such that in Guwahati Rs 100 can fetch a consumer a kg of tomato, a kg of brinjal, half a kg of carrot, a kg of cabbage, a kg of cauliflower and a kg of cucumber. The same Rs 100 can fetch a Guwahati vegetable trader at Barpeta Road Wholesale Market, from where such items are procured during this season, 20 kg of tomato, ten kg of brinjal, 2 kg of carrot, 30 kg of cabbage, 30 kg of cauliflower and 40 kg of cucumber. The trick of Assam ‘market conjurers’ is such that a kg of tomato that is procured by a trader at the rate of 50 paise a kg at Barpeta Road Wholesale Market gets a price tag of Rs 20 a kg as soon as the commodity reaches Guwahati. Brinjal is bought at the rate of Rs 2 a kg at Barpeta Road and sold at Rs 20 a kg in Guwahati, carrot is bought at Rs 5 a kg at Berpeta Road and sold at Rs 20 a kg, cabbage is bought at Rs 50 paise a kg at Barpeta Road and sold at Rs 15 a kg in Guwahati, cauliflower is bought at 50 paise a kg at Barpeta Road and sold at Rs 15 a kg in Guwahati, cucumber of bought at 50 paise a kg in Barpeta Road and sold at Rs 20 a kg in Guwahati, fresh bean is bought at Rs 4/5 a kg in Barpeta Road and sold at Rs 20 a kg and ol kobi is bought at Re 1 a kg at Berpata Road and sold at Rs 12 a kg in Guwahati. Allegations galore that vegetable traders have to pay cash to a number of check–gates on their way to Guwahati with such vegetables. Among the check–gates, there is one of the Assam Agricultural Marketing Board’s (AAMB) that too charges an amount from the vegetable traders, as though to hike their prices.
Many organizations of the state have been alleging that various police stations in the state also charge money from the vegetable traders. If one has to fix the responsibility for such a plight in the state, one cannot overlook the failure on the part of the Assam Agricultural Marketing Board (AAMB) that is responsible for helping the state farmers selling their produces at reasoble prices. However, what is happening in the state under the very nose of the board robs the farmers of their reasoble prices and the consumers of the right prices of the commodities they consume.
In this reason, Barpeta Road is famous for producing vegetables in bulk. The farmers do not get any help from the state agriculture department in the form of subsidies or otherwise, and as such they have to do everything on their own. However, when the farmers are able to get bumper yield, the department, especially its AAMB, out to fail the farmers by not extending any help to them in selling their produces at reasoble prices. This allows unscrupulous middlemen to rob the farmers who are left with no choice but to sell their produces at throwaway prices, as vegetables are highly perishable.
In such a situation, cold storage could have been a succour for the farmers, but the state agriculture department has failed to provide such facilities to the farmers.