Kalaburagi millers in soup after tur dal gets GI tag

Kalaburagi millers in soup after tur dal gets GI tag

Millers fear big players may enter the fray, hitting their business.

The newfound status of Kalaburagi’s famed red gram is no good news for everyone in the district. 

The Geographical Indications (GI) tag recently awarded to ‘Gulbarga Tur Dal’ by the Centre is a blessing for farmers, who can now expect a better price for their produce. But the dal millers of Kalaburagi fear the GI tag will bring big industrialists like Tata and Adani Group into the tur processing business directly, which may push the debt-stricken small-scale industry into deeper crisis.

Dal Millers’ Association president Shivasharanappa Nigdugi told DH that the pulse grown in Kalaburagi district will get a brand name because of the tag. The growers will get a higher price for their produce. The area of growing the crop will also be expanded in the district.

But the tag is bad news for the dal mills in the district which are already in crisis. Almost half of the 350-400 mills shut shop after the government started importing tur dal from Western countries. “We have been in crisis since 2015-16. Earlier, the annual turnover of a dal mill was between Rs 8 crore and Rs 10 crore. But we have become debt-ridden due to the unscientific polices of the Union government,” Nigdugi alleged.

With the Centre according GI tag to the red gram, there are chances of big players with latest technology entering the business, compounding the crisis of small millers. “Hence, we are demanding that the Centre consider dal mills as an agri-based industry so that millers get loans at 4% interest instead of 11%,” he said.

Medicinal properties

Hyderabad Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Amarnath Patil said the GI tag will take Gulbarga Tur Dal to the international level. Many agricultural universities will begin research on the produce as tur has medicinal properties which may help treat cancer, he said.

Due to the presence of limestone in Sedam, Chittapur, Chincholi and other areas of the district, the tur gets good nutrition and the produce will not rot early, Nigdugi said.

An official at the Agriculture Science College said the superior quality of tur was because of the availability of calcium, carbohydrate and potassium in the region. “When farmers get good price, it will in turn help dal millers,” he hoped.