Vegetable prices jump in India as farmers go on strike

Two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people depend directly or indirectly on farming for their livelihood, but farm incomes only account for 14 percent of gross domestic product. (Reuters)
Updated 04 June 2018
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Vegetable prices jump in India as farmers go on strike

  • Farmers began their 10-day protest on Friday to press demands such as farm loan waivers and higher prices for produce such as cereals, oilseeds and milk
  • Last year six farmers were killed in similar protests that became violent in the central state of Madhya Pradesh

MUMBAI: Vegetable prices jumped as much as 10 percent in major Indian cities, including Mumbai and Delhi, as a four-day old strike by millions of farmers curtailed supplies.
Farmers began their 10-day protest on Friday to press demands such as farm loan waivers and higher prices for produce such as cereals, oilseeds and milk.
“Wholesale prices of some vegetables like tomatoes and french beans have risen due to lower supplies,” said a Mumbai-based vegetable vendor Mahesh Gupta.
Outbreaks of rural discontent poses a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who promised when he came to power in 2014 to double farm incomes in five years.
Farmers in eight states, mostly ruled by Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party, have restricted supplies of vegetable and milk to the cities’ markets.
“We are distributing milk and vegetables to the poor and needy, but we’ve decided not sell. The basic idea is to highlight the plight of farmers who have been overlooked by the government,” said Ramandeep Singh Mann, a farmer based in the northern state of Punjab.
Prices for many crops have fallen sharply, while the price of diesel has gone up, squeezing millions of India’s mostly small-scale farmers.
Last year six farmers were killed in similar protests that became violent in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
In recent days, farmers blocked highways in some places and poured milk onto roads. The protests have been peaceful so far, although organizers are planning to increase the intensity in coming days.
“The government hasn’t fulfilled promises it had given last year. We have no option but to intensify our protests,” said Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, one of the farmers’ union participating in the strike.
Two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people depend directly or indirectly on farming for their livelihood, but farm incomes only account for 14 percent of gross domestic product, reflecting a growing divide between the countryside and wealthier cities.
“I am stocking up vegetables for the entire week,” said Anjali Salunkhe, a housewife in Mumbai, fearing prices could double as they did during protests last year.


Dubai schools allowed to raise fees after last year’s freeze hit GEMS listing

Updated 6 min 32 sec ago
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Dubai schools allowed to raise fees after last year’s freeze hit GEMS listing

  • UAE authorities fixed the fees in hopes of stimulating the economy
  • The maximum increase for next year will be 2.07 percent for 90 percent of the schools

DUBAI: Dubai will allow a modest increase in school fees for the majority of students in the 2019-2020 academic year, the government said, after last year’s freeze triggered a delay in the London listing of a major school operator.
The move is likely to provide some reprieve for private investors such as private equity firms, who own most of the schools in the country, a Gulf Arab state that acts as a Middle East hub for international companies.
Last year’s move to freeze Dubai school had hit the initial public offering of Blackstone-backed, Middle East-focused education company GEMS, Reuters had reported, citing sources. The London listing was delayed after authorities in Dubai unexpectedly decided to freeze tuition fees, meaning the company’s financial forecasts had to be adjusted, they said.
Dubai’s move last year to freeze school fees came amid a number of other measures to cut costs in a bid to stimulate the economy that has been hurt by a downturn in property prices.
The Dubai government said it will allow an increase in school fees for 90 percent of students by a maximum 2.07 percent from the 2019-2020 academic year.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the crown prince and son of Dubai’s ruler, approved the new framework where the Dubai School Inspection Bureau will assess the quality of education in each school against its index and rank them accordingly.
Schools in which the quality of education is declining according to the government’s index will not be allowed to increase their fees.
Only 10 percent of the students in Dubai will have their fees increased by more than 2.07 percent, it said.