KADAPA: One of the widely-cultivated horticulture crops in Kadapa district, papaya has seen a drastic price drop—from Rs 18,000 in June-July to just Rs 5,500 per tonne by August-end. Farmers blame syndicates of middlemen for the massive price slump and demand that the government intervene to do justice to them.
Nageswar Naidu and V Subrahmanyam, papaya growers in Railway Kodur mandal, say they are now worried if they will even get back their investment this season. “Though there is a great demand for Kadapa papaya in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and other northern States, the markets are being ruled by syndicates. They determine the price. Although the government is aware, it is not taking any action,” they alleged.
Farmers who got as much as Rs 18,000 for one tonne of papaya in June-July, say the prices fell to Rs 13,000 in early August and, by month end, they were forced to sell their produce for less than 1/3rd of the July price, which hardly covers the transportation charges.
“We cannot store the crop in fields because it is highly perishable. We have to clear the harvest at the earliest, so we are not left with any other option but to sell it at the price dictated by the market,” Subrahmanyam rued.
Papaya is cultivated in 6,000 hectares in Railway Koduru, Mydukur, and Khajipet mandals, and one acre yields 10 tonnes, that is around 25 tonnes per hectare. The cost of cultivation, which includes sapling, fertiliser, pesticides and agriculture labour costs, is anywhere between Rs 70,000 to Rs 90,000 per acre.
The fruit grown in Kadapa is not only marketed in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, but also supplied to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, where there is a great demand for it. “We took up papaya cultivation seeing demand and profit, but middlemen are ruining our future. The much touted farm-gate sales by the State government is not happening at the field-level. No one has come to us to procure or facilitate in sales. They did not even take measures to stop the middlemen menace in the market,” Venkata Subbaiah and Srinivasulu Naidu of Raghavarajupuram complained.
They said it is high time for the government to intervene and ensure that at least Rs 15,000 is offered for per tonne of papaya. Further, it should also ensure that spurious seeds are not sold, and increase the subsidy on pesticides by 80%. “Instead of village, farms should be taken as a unit as a unit for crop insurance, and claims should be settled in time. The government should link agriculture and horticulture with MGNREGS, which will help the farmers,” they observed.