Bellary's chilli farmers reap only miseries this year

Bellary's chilli farmers reap only miseries this year

No sweet news for chilli farmers in the taluk this season. Lack of sufficient rain, plummeting yield and falling prices have meant that the growers of the red crop will not be able to make ends meet.

In the red: A farmer separates inferior quality chillies from better ones in Bellary taluk. DH Photo

Both the Guntur and Byadagi varieties of chilli are grown at Kaggallu, Dammuru, Koluru, Madire, Somasamudra, Korlagundi, Sridharagadde, Byluru, Sindhikeri, Handyalu, Kurugodu and other villages in the taluk.

The farmers have been able to get an yield of only eight to 10 quintals per acre this time against the normal harvest of 12 to 15 quintals. They have spent Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per acre, but the profit has not been encouraging.

Last year, the price that the Byadagi variety of chilli commanded was in the range of Rs 9,000 to Rs 11,000 per quintal. The price range for the Guntur variety was Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000. But this time the Byadagi variety is being sold for just Rs 4,000 to Rs 9,000 a quintal, while the Guntur variety is fetching only Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000. Just one out of 100 farmers is able to get the maximum price, while most of the others have to be content with the minimum price.

The farmers are now finding it difficult to run their families due to the dipping income from the chilli fields, K M Sadananda, a farmer from Kaggallu village, told Deccan Herald.

Though the chilli fields have irrigation facilities, lack of enough rain has taken a toll on the crop quality.

“There are more of the light-coloured chillies this time. Though we have removed such chillies from the consignments sent to the markets at Byadagi and Challakere, there is no appreciation in the prices,” said Srinivas, a farmer from Srinivas camp.

There are other farmers whose plight is worse. They rent the fields from the landlords at Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per acre per year.

They have spent lakhs of rupees for cultivating the crop. With the low yield and the crashing prices, they have suffered huge losses, after paying the rent to the landlords.

Those farmers who earned just about enough to sustain their families last time, are in dire straits this year.