Fear of one more lockdown is worrying raisin farmers of Bijapur

BIJAPUR; 18 Mar: The re-imposition of lockdown in several parts of Maharashtra and fear of a second wave of Covid in Karnataka has brought back the dark clouds over the raisin business of the district.

Since majority of the raisin produced in Bijapur district is sold in Maharashtra as it gives remunerative prices compared to Karnataka market, most of the raisin farmers prefer to sell the produce in Maharashtra itself.

But now with the Maharashtra government imposing lockdown in certain areas and more restrictions imposed on interstate travelers, the farmers of the district are facing the heat again.

According to sources in the Horticulture Department, at least Rs. 3000 crore worth of raisin is traded from Bijapur every year.

Because of the prolonged lockdown imposed last year due to Covid pandemic, the farmers of Bijapur incurred losses. But just when the farmers were hoping to recover the loss this year, the second wave of Covid in Maharashtra is acting as a hurdle again.

The farmers had kept their produce in the cold storage for long by paying heavy rent. Now the farmers will have to bear that expense also.

Though the government of Karnataka has so far ruled out any lockdown or even the night curfew, however the farmers are carrying the fear as they are not sure that the government will maintain the same stand in coming days also if the cases of Covid steeply rise.

The district has cultivated grapes on over 14,000 hectare land, of that over 80% grape is used to convert into raisin. Several farmers have already started the process and are putting sheds in their farm to dry up the grapes.

Meanwhile some farmers are alleging that the traders are bringing down the prices of the raisin creating a fear of another round of lockdown.

The raisin which was sold at Rs. 230 to Rs. 250/kg in February, has come down to Rs. 150 to Rs. 180/kg today.

“ We are urging the government of Karnataka and Maharashtra also not to impose complete lockdown again which is putting us in major trouble. We are already in huge loss, any more lockdown will break of backbone” says farmer Kallanagouda Patil, a grape farmer of Mulawad village.

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