BENGALURU: Amid the gloom of the novel coronavirus, there is something positive for farmers. The demand for turmeric has grown in local markets against the backdrop of the pandemic. While turmeric, which contains curcumin that helps build immunity because of its anti-allergic and antibiotic properties, has been popular among households, it finds growing demand from pharmaceutical companies. In Andhra Pradesh, the government has entered into an agreement with farmers in Chintapalli to grow more organic turmeric to meet the demand from pharmaceutical industry.
The turmeric grown in the region has the highest curcumin content (5-7 per cent) which is ideal for pharmaceutical firms. Agriculture department commissioner Brijesh Kumar Dikshit told The New Indian Express such an agreement is a good idea, but no such communication has come from the Karnataka government. In Karnataka, turmeric is produced in Bidar, Chamarajnagar, Bagalkot, Mysuru, Kalaburagi and Mandya districts.
According to statistics, 81,558 tonnes of the produce was grown in 12,987 in hectares in the state in 2019- 20. Horticulture department director B Venkatesh said 70 per cent of the turmeric grown in the state is bought by pharmaceutical firms. He said there has been a gradual increase in the demand for the produce. The demand from both the pharmaceutical sector and household consumers, is so much that the Karnataka Biodiversity Board and the forest department have been booking cases against firms for procuring turmeric illegally from forests.
“Many notices have been slapped on leading national and international brands and cases are under investigation. More cases have been coming to light since January when the COVID-19 issue surfaced,” said an official of the Board. Palat Vijayaraghavan, founder and CEO of Lawrencedale Agro Processing (Leaf), said regular turmeric has less curcumin (around 3-4 percent) compared to what is grown in Chintapalli. While pharmaceutical firms look at the varieties which have high curcumic content, masala producing firms make do with less curcumin content because they are keen on the colour, he said.