Markets opened but not the fate of grape farmers

Markets opened but not the fate of grape farmers

‘Suffering double whammy, our bad days does not seem to end’

BIJAPUR; 10 Dec:  It has been over five months of lifting the lockdown fully and the government allowing the trade to start, however the market has still not picked up to normal, at least for the raisin farmers of the district as they have continued to suffer loss.

With the market being hit, the raisin prices have reduced by nearly 40 percent.

The grape growers were hoping that they might get a good price for raisins before the Covid-19 induced lockdown. After the government announced a three-month lockdown in March, all the businesses were shut down across the country. However, the authorities had allowed for the transportation of raisins to the cold storages that are located in Maharashtra during the lockdown.

Before the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the good quality of raisins had been priced between Rs 180 to Rs 240 per kg. The poor quality of raisins priced less than Rs 140 per kg. Now, the price has reduced nearly 40 percent as for the good quality of raisins costs Rs 120 to Rs 140 per kg, where the sub-standard quality of raisins below Rs 100 per kg, said Suresh Mohite, officer at APMC in Bijapur.

According to the Department of Horticulture, Bijapur is the largest producer of grapes in the state, where nearly 14,000 hectares of grape is cultivated across the district. And over 65,000 tonnes of raisins produced annually in the district.

The farmers said this year they have double whammy which has caused heavy loss to the farmers.

“This year is a nightmare for the grape growers.  On the one we failed to get a good price for the raisins and on the other, the torrential rains  damaged the grape plantation.

If the raisins price fails to increase in next one or two months all the grape growers will be in debt because the maintenance cost is high compared to other horticulture crops,” said Mallikarjun Muttappanvar, a grape grower .

According to sources in APMC, temples are one of the biggest consumers of raisins. Because of Covid-19, the temples are hardly celebrating the festivals. So, the demand has reduced for the produce and subsequently the price has dropped. Even the export for the European and Middle-East countries has lessened.

Abhaykumar Nandrekar, President of Karnataka Grape Growers Association  said that the farmers spend around Rs 3.75 lakh per hectare for the maintenance of the grape annually. With the price of raisins reduced in the market the grape growers are living in fear that they might go under debt for the second consecutive year.

“Last year, the grape production had reduced by 40 percent because of the disease. This year farmers had hoped that they might get a good price for the produce but the pandemic has ruined everything. We had appealed to the government to announce. The government has offered a relief package of only Rs. Rs 18,000 per hectare to farmers which is too meager for grape farmers compared to the amount they spend on cultivation. The government has to come in rescue of the grape growers or else the entire community will be in big trouble”, Nandrekar said.

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