Plunging price hits capsicum farmers hard

Growers in Kolar district seek markets in far-off places through middlemen

The capsicum growers in the district are in a quandary owing to the sharp drop in the price of the vegetable. The produce, which traded at Rs 4,000 a quintal two months ago, is now being sold at Rs 300 a quintal.

The farmers took up capsicum cultivation since the produce was fetching high price in the market. Some of them gave up tomato for capsicum, only to burn their hands in the new venture.

The attempts of the farmers to seek market outside the district have not been fruitful. They have been reaching out to markets in Chennai, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata and Bangalore through middlemen. But the price has collpased in these markets too.

The fall

A kilo of capsicum which used to be sold at Rs 40 to Rs 50 per kg, is now available at Rs 8 to Rs 12 a kg. The harvesting/ packing expenses alone come to Rs 6 a kilo.

“I planted 20,000 saplings in one and half acre of land two months ago. The yield for the first two harvests is usually low, but goes up for the third harvest. But the price has come down drastically. I irrigated the plants by sinking a borewell, borrowing money from private lenders. With the sharp decline in the price, I am at wits’ end,” Srinivas, a farmer of Thimmasandra said.

He said he took to capsicum for the first time, but has burnt his fingers. “Out of my investment of Rs two lakh, I have recovered only Rs 20,000,” he added.

Expenditure

Srinivas said he spent Rs 25,000 on mulching paper alone, another Rs 45,000 on pesticides, Rs 40 for each box of capsicum (about 40 kilo) for transportation and drip irrigated the crop.

Lack of marketing facility is another hurdle the farmers face. It is their grouse that the traders at the Agriculture Produce Market Yard accord preference only for tomato while the price for capsicum is fixed near the farms.

“Capsicum farmers have no marketing facility of their own,” rued N V Ramesh, a farmer.
Leader of Raitha Sangha-Hasiru Sene, Narayanagowda, said the prices of vegetables were crashing in the market and in the absence of a proper marketing facility, farmers were at the receiving end. He said agriculture and horticulture departments should come to the rescue of farmers.

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