Dip in prices of jaggery leaves a bitter taste

The farmers of the district are a worried lot due to the crash in jaggery prices at the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), which is said to be the lowest in the decade. Jaggery, sold at Rs 4,000 per quintal in December 2017, is now being sold at Rs 2,400 per quintal.

The golden colour jaggery, which would fly off the shelves in the market has no takers now, leaving the farmers worried. When compared to the rate on November 1, a quintal of bucket jaggery, mould, box, and other varieties has come down by Rs 1,100 per quintal, as on December 12. As it is not possible to store jaggery for a long duration, the farmers and jaggery unit (aalemane) owners are selling the produce for available prices.

Farmer Shivarajegowda recalled a similar crash in jaggery prices around 10 years ago when upset farmers destroyed their sugarcane fields by setting it afire.

“If a quintal of jaggery does not cross Rs 3,000 mark, a loss is certain. The farmers were hoping that the situation would return to normal by December. But, the crash in prices continued. This would lead to more farmer suicides,” he said.

The jaggery supplied from Mandya district was popular across the country. There used to be a great demand for jaggery among the traders in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, and other states. It was also supplied to Davangere, Hosapete, Ballari and other places in North Karnataka. However, with good quality jaggery being produced there itself, there are no takers for Mandya jaggery now.

APMC trader Shivasundar said, usually there is a demand for jaggery between May and December. But, with the factories across the state stopping crushing of sugarcane, jaggery units mushroomed at all places. As the farmers are growing hybrid varieties of sugarcane, the production has risen by 80 tonne per acre. Hence, the price has crashed, he explained.

Farmer leader K S Nanjundegowda said, the farmers of Mandya have leased the jaggery units to the traders from Uttar Pradesh. They bring workers from there. They harvest sugarcane and also produce jaggery. They use chemical agents to add colour and shine to the jaggery. They also use sugar to get a different colour.

Now, Mandya jaggery has become UP jaggery and has lost its quality. So, the traders refuse to buy it, he said.

The farmers would not have faced such a situation, if the MySugar and PSSK factories were functioning, he added.

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