1. Agriculture World

Antitrust Probe Launched on Reports of Unfair Prices of Carrots

Abin Joseph
Abin Joseph
Harvested Carrots

According to regulatory papers, on a petition filed by a group of farmers who grow carrots in the hilly Nilgiri area of Tamil Nadu (which is the top carrot producing state in South India) stating that carrot seeds were being sold at an "unfair profit margin" an antitrust probe was launched. This is the first time that the complaint has been made public.

It has sparked an inquiry that might have ramifications for pricing practises in India's vegetable seed business, which is anticipated to reach 8947 crore Rs in five years. According to the records, the agricultural enterprises' seeds were reportedly sold for four times the imported price in some cases. The farmers have also banned the sale of similar seeds in northern India, where they were available for up to 50% less. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on September 8 conducted a multi-city search and seizure operation at the local units of Germany's BASF, France's Vilmorin & Cie and other firms as part of the investigation. 

"There appears to be an understanding/arrangement between the seed importing companies to control the supply of an imported variety of carrot seeds and determine their prices," the CCI said in a statement in May last year in a confidential order, in which it asked its investigation unit to look into the matter. 

Farmers also said that when they gave favourable comments on the seeds, the firm dealers raised their pricing, which differed between south and north India. According to a second internal CCI report, two CCI officials visited the region last year and interviewed farmers and government officials, as well as collecting seed samples from a laboratory, before launching the larger probe.

During that visit, one farmer showed the CCI a message on his phone claiming that the pricing for the identical seeds were different in the north and south India, according to the paper. 

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