Excerpts from a Fellow’s Diary: The Unfair Maths of Bottle Gourd

This is not just a story-it’s a true story. This is what I witnessed at the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee market (APMC), Shahapur, Thane. That’s where I understood the (real) gravity of the situation, rather than something perceived and projected by the media, which determined my choice of a project – to work in the area of vegetable business.

Let’s look at the background first. A family works on the farm for 2-3 months and now it’s time to take the produce to the market. In the present case, the produce/vegetable is Bottle Gourd (Lauki – Doodhi Bhopla-Sorekai: Baba Ramdev Baba has made it quite famous!)

This farmer has a 19 year old son, who is studying F.Y.B.A., let’s call him Ram. He is on summer vacation now, so his father has asked him to go out and sell the Bottle Gourd, in the APMC market. Quite excited, he gets one ‘Bori’ and fills it with around, 55 Bottle Gourd. (This weighs 30-35Kg). Then he puts the Bori in a tempo and travels for about 45 minutes. Pays 20 Rs as Bori transportation charge and 10 Rs as his fare.

When he enters the market the trading session is in full swing:

Trader 1:        Kiti  la  denar?          (What’s the selling rate?)

Ram:               4 rupaye  la  ek.        (Rs 4 per piece)

Without even giving a second glance the trader leaves.  After some time another trader comes along and asks for the rate. This time the conversation goes like this:

Ram:               Tumhi   kiti  la  ghenar?      (How much do you want it for?)

Trader 2:        Shekdyala  75  rupye.         (Rs 75 for 100 pieces)

Ram:               Tula   dyaychya  aivaji  janavarala  khayla  deen  me. (Rather than selling it, I will throw it to the animals.)

That’s how the second trade ended. Now the young chap is getting frustrated and beginning to lose his temper. Particularly, as the trading is taking place in peak summer in the middle of April, at around 1 o’clock.

Negotiations continue for another hour, while he hopes to get a good price he is also starting to lose his patience. Finally the trade took place and he sold it for: 1 Rs/piece.

Now let’s do some maths:

Rs 20 (Bori transportation charge) + Rs 20 (his to & fro fare) + Rs 5 (Cost of Plastic Bori) + Rs 2 ( APMC fees)

Rs 47 he had to spend and he got Rs 55. That is – he got Rs 8 in hand for lugging around 30-35 Kilos of Bottlegourd – We have not even talked about the cost of pesticide, seed, fertiliser and labour cost, etc. You can imagine the expression and emotions of the guy when he walked out of that market.

What purchasing power will he have?

Won’t he die of hunger or under the burden of loans?

And now after completing his graduation, will he prefer to be a watchman, a security guard, a doorman, or THE FARMER? I guess we all know the answer.

–       SBI Youth for India fellow Haresh Bhere 


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