Fall in the demand for exotic fruits worries growers

Coronavirus Lockdown: Fall in the demand for exotic fruits worries growers

Growers collect butter fruits from trees.

Fruit cultivators too have been facing the brunt of the lockdown as the demand for fruits has fallen drastically.

Especially, the growers of exotic fruits such as litchi, rambutan and butter fruit are in a dilemma whether to harvest the fruits or leave them in the trees.

Before the lockdown, butter fruit fetched Rs 120 to Rs 150 per kg. The farmers sold them at a price of Rs 50 to 60, to the sellers. The gap in the selling and the buying price was due to the transportation costs incurred by the sellers who supplied them to the shops and markets.

But, during lockdown, very few sellers have shown interest to buy the fruit from farmers. Even then, they have been offering throwaway prices to the cultivators for their produce. Left with no other choice, farmers who do not want the fruits to get rotten, are selling them at Rs 15 per kg.

This is because the demand for the fruits has fallen as there are only a handful of buyers left in the market who opt for them. The lockdown situation has changed the priorities of buyers, the farmers said.

As there was a good price for butter fruit in the market, a large number of orange and banana cultivators switched to butter fruit cultivation.

Diseases marred orange plants which were grown as an alternative crop in coffee plantations in Kodagu. This was also the reason for the farmers to shift the crop.

Butter fruit was in demand for its nutritional and healing properties. The fruit is harvested twice a year. The fruits were transported to Bengaluru, Mysuru and Kerala in huge quantities.

Since the lockdown began, the growers have been incurring a loss as the inter-state transportation has been banned. However, the fruits are being transported to neighbouring districts, in the containers carrying vegetables, said a farmer.