Fall in prices of crops puts Wayanad farmers in a fix

By E.M. Manoj

Sharp fall in prices, poor demand for short-term crops and various diseases affecting major crops have put farmers in Wayanad district, a major coffee and spices growing region in the State, in a fix.

Only a few weeks remain to start ginger harvest but the produce has no demand in the market owing to uncertainties after the pandemic. The spot price of ginger in Wayanad market on Monday was ₹500 a bag (60 kg) as against ₹1,800 a bag during the corresponding period last year. The price had touched ₹10,000 a bag three years ago.

The price of ‘nendran’ variety of plantain in the market was ₹13 a kg on Monday. It was ₹28 a kg last year.

Most of the ginger plantations, especially in the low-lying areas of the district, are under the threat of fungal and bacterial wilt diseases owing to the sporadic rain.

“I planted ginger on an acre of leased land around six months ago. But I am forced to take a premature harvest owing to the spread of the fungal disease, locally called Mahali,” Gopi Kochanikkal, a small-scale farmer at Kallur, said.

He had spent close to ₹5 lakh for the cultivation and was not sure whether he could recoup even a fraction of his investment. Most of the traders refused to procure the produce citing the low shelf life of immature ginger rhizomes, he added.

Trading sources said there was no demand for the produce in the major markets of neighbouring States after the outbreak of the pandemic.

Though the government had fixed the minimum support price (MSP) for 16 farmers produce a few years ago, crops like ginger and yam were not included in the list.

Though the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam and Horticorp are the agencies for procuring plantain, they were collecting only a limited quantity from a farmer at a time, that too only from farmers who had registered with those agencies, sources said.

The State government had announced MSP for coffee a year ago but the agencies were yet to start procurement, sources said.


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