Bleak future for Kothapet Rythu Bazaar farmers
Even a marginal hike of one rupee over the price of petrol raises a hue and cry from every motorist, which is quite expected. It is the same when there is an increase in the cost of LPG cylinders. Against this backdrop, it does need too much of wisdom to imagine the near-shock one gets if there is a staggering Rs 1,500 increase in rent.
Authorities hike rentals by Rs 1,500 in one go
Even a marginal hike of one rupee over the price of petrol raises a hue and cry from every motorist, which is quite expected. It is the same when there is an increase in the cost of LPG cylinders. Against this backdrop, it does need too much of wisdom to imagine the near-shock one gets if there is a staggering Rs 1,500 increase in rent. It perhaps might not be a huge dent in the pockets of well-to-do families but to a poor farmer, it sounds a near death-knell.
Imagine the shock a farmer gets when the rent for his ‘stall’ at Rythu Bazaar gets enhanced by almost 30 per cent! The overnight bolt from the blue is precisely what had caught hundreds of farmers, who market their produce at Kothapet. A seasonal crop failure would probably be less impactful (in colloquial terms) than shelling down an extra Rs 1,500 month after month as rent. Indeed, the already aggrieved famers will now have to pay Rs 4,700 per month as rent and not Rs 3,200 they were paying for the past five years.
Many rue that continuing to be in business would be near-suicidal. “We are not the ones who sell pulses, potatoes or onions to rake in huge returns. We only sell leafy vegetables. There is good footfall but too many players are into vegetables. The returns are enough to earn two square meals a day for the family,” laments Yadagiri, a farmer-stall owner.
Echoing the sentiment, Kavitha quips, “There are only two stalls that sell potatoes and onions but there are more than 20 stalls that sell other vegetables. The money each of us makes is miniscule or peanuts.” It is a common sight at all the Rythu Bazaars in the city that not all farmers sell via stalls. The entrance of every bazaar is dotted by petty sellers who bombard the customers even before he or she can enter the main market place. ‘What to do, we cannot afford the rent,’ is the common refrain of these unfortunate souls.
Ironically, farmers do not have a say in the price structure of the commodities, as it is the committee which decides the selling price. However, K Janardhan Reddy, AMC of the Kothapet Rythu Bazaar, defended the decision to hike the rentals stating that it was long overdue.
“According to rules, there has to be a 10 per cent hike every second year. It has not happened since 2009. We had a meeting with the stall owners’ association. They all agreed to the hike.” The new decision has gone well with the affluent parties even as the small farmers are on the lookout for alternate venues. One wonders what the ‘pro-poor’ and ‘pro-farmers’ authorities are doing in this case.